Ty Griffin

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Tyrone Griffin

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Biographical Information[edit]

Infielder Ty Griffin was one of the brightest stars for the USA national team in the late 1980s and played nine years in the minors, but never made it past AA.

1980-1988: Amateur stardom[edit]

Griffin played for the Tampa, FL team in the 1980 Little League World Series; they hit .449 as a unit, setting a new record; his teammates included Gary Sheffield and Derek Bell. In the finale, Griffin went 1 for 2 with a homer as the Tampa #2 batter and shortstop, outperforming Sheffield and Bell in a 4-3 loss to Taiwan. He was picked by the Baltimore Orioles in the 12th round of the 1985 amateur draft but did not sign. In 1986, he stole 50 bases in 54 tries for Georgia Tech and was second in NCAA Division I in steals, trailing Tim Becker by 2. The players right behind him were Lance Blankenship and Darryl Hamilton. In 1987, he stole 39 in 42 tries, tying for 20th in NCAA Division I with Ed Alicea and Jose Marzan. He was the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Conference second baseman.

He dazzled that summer for Team USA, hitting .367/~.467/.619. He stole 21 bases, second on the team. He was second on the team in walks, two behind leader Dave Silvestri. He drove in 34, second to team leader Tino Martinez's 38. He hit 8 homers, tying Ted Wood for second, one behind Martinez and six more than Frank Thomas. Among players with 100 AB for Team USA, he had the best average. He also led in runs. In the 1987 Pan-American Games, he handed the Cuban national team its first defeat in the Pan-American Games since 1967 with a 9th-inning two-run two-out home run off Pablo Abreu to break a 4-4 tie. Griffin scored 14 runs in the round-robin phase of the tournament, the most.

Back at Georgia Tech, he again was an ACC All-Conference pick and was voted a third-team Baseball America All-American. He scored 81 runs in 68 games, tied for 19th in NCAA Division I.

With the USA national team, he hit .416/~.485/.805 with 16 homers, 52 RBI and 21 steals. He led the team's regulars in average, beating out Martinez, Robin Ventura, Scott Servais, Mickey Morandini, Bret Barberie and Ed Sprague Jr.. He was second to Martinez in home runs and led with 18 doubles. He scored 69 runs, 21 more than runners-up Martinez and Ventura. Despite hitting leadoff, he was third in RBI. He led with 34 walks. He led in steals, one more than Tom Goodwin. In the 1988 Baseball World Cup, Griffin tied Omar Linares for the most runs (19 in 13 games). He tied for fourth in home runs with 4, trailing Martinez, Linares and Luis Casanova. He fielded .982. He only stole 3 bases in 5 tries, the lone down point. He drove in 13 and hit .348/.500/.652. Antonio Pacheco got the nod as the All-Star 2B ahead of him. He split the Baseball America Summer Baseball Player of the Year Award with Ventura. He also played for the USA in the 1988 Olympics and helped lead them to a Gold Medal.

He was signed by the Chicago Cubs and scout Billy Champion as the first round pick of the 1988 amateur draft (9th overall pick), between Jim Abbott and Ventura. Like Ventura, he had been a first-round pick by a Chicago team after his summer stardom - their careers would diverge in the professional ranks, though. The hope was for Griffin to replace Ryne Sandberg at second so the veteran could move to third later in his career. In addition to Ventura, Martinez was the other first-rounder taken after Griffin who went on to stardom.

1989-1992: Affiliated minors[edit]

Griffin debuted professionally in 1989 with the Peoria Chiefs and batted .287/~.389/.480 with 16 steals, 45 runs, 6 triples, 15 doubles, 10 homers, 49 walks and a Midwest League-best 64 RBI in 82 games before he was promoted. He still wound up the MWL leader in intentional walks (9, tied with Mike Fiore) and was rated the #2 prospect in the league by Baseball America after Tom Redington. He also made the transition to third base during the season.

Promoted to the Charlotte Knights, Griffin hit .231/~.345/.336 with 8 steals in his first 45 games at AA.

Griffin split 1990 between the Winston-Salem Spirits (.217/~.369/.325 in 33 games) and Charlotte (.209/~.362/.349, 57 BB and 8 HR in 78 games the lone bright spots). He fielded .833 at third base, forcing a move to the outfield. In 1991, Ty was on the same two clubs but only somewhat better - .242/~.383/.357 in 88 games for Winston-Salem, albeit with 26 steals, 72 walks and 71 runs. With Charlotte, he hit .164/~.322/.198. Overall, he did draw 99 walks and his 87 runs led Cubs farmhands. He was only 10 runs behind the Carolina League co-leaders and 11 walks behind leader Tracy Sanders despite his struggles.

The Cubs left Griffin off of their 40-man roster that winter and apparently he was claimed by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1991 Rule V Draft (needs to be confirmed). Assigned to the Chattanooga Lookouts, the 24-year-old infielder (back at second base now) hit .239/~.361/.349. He was caught in 9 of 17 steal attempts as his lone remaining skill was drawing walks (a team-high 66). Only 4 years after being one of the top 10 players taken in the draft, he was out of affiliated baseball.

1993-1997: Indy Leagues and one last crack at Organized Baseball[edit]

Griffin was picked up by the Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks in the new Northern League. He hit .274/?/.453 with 11 home runs, tying Leon Durham for the league lead. Moving to the Sioux City Explorers for 1994, he batted .266/?/.443 with 23 stolen bases.

Griffin got one more look at the affiliated minors in 1995. Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, he was assigned to the Chattanooga Lookouts, for whom his batting line was .274/~.361/.445 with 17 stolen bases in 19 tries in 94 games. In AA at age 27, it was too late to be considered a prospect again, though.

In 1996, Ty returned to the independent leagues with the Grand Forks Varmints, hitting .326/?/.528 with 25 steals and 62 runs in 267 AB in a high-offense league. He made the Prairie League All-Star team as an outfielder.

In his last year in pro baseball, Griffin hit .277 with 14 HR and 40 RBI for Grand Forks.

Post-baseball life[edit]

Griffin returned to college and got a bachelor's degree in finance. He then became an agent with StarTrust Management. He is currently a sales Rep for Phillip Morris. He oversees sales operations for the greater Tampa area in Florida.

He is also currently (2014) the head coach at Tampa Catholic High School.

Sources: 1986-1987 Baseball America Statistics Reports, 1988-1998 Baseball Almanacs, IBAF site, 1991 Baseball Guide, StarTrust Management website, Little League World Series

Related Sites[edit]

Where are they now?