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Grissom Jr. stands out at RBI World Series

MLB.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- One of the earliest memories Marquis Grissom Jr. has is sitting in the Giants clubhouse and listening to Barry Bonds talk to him about hitting.

"I remember he just said, 'Stay through the ball and don't worry about where it goes. Just try to hit the ball hard,'" Grissom Jr. recalls. "I still listen to that to this day."

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- One of the earliest memories Marquis Grissom Jr. has is sitting in the Giants clubhouse and listening to Barry Bonds talk to him about hitting.

"I remember he just said, 'Stay through the ball and don't worry about where it goes. Just try to hit the ball hard,'" Grissom Jr. recalls. "I still listen to that to this day."

His father, Marquis Grissom Sr., was teammates with Bonds from 2003-05, and it was during those years that Grissom Jr. began to realize just how big of a deal his father, who retired in 2005 with two All-Star appearances and four National League Gold Gloves Awards to his name, was. Fast forward 14 years, and the younger Grissom is now carving his own path, as he and his teammates from the Atlanta area set their sights on a title at the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series in Minnesota.

Growing up as the child of a pro athlete can often end up being more of a burden than a benefit for many young ballplayers. But Grissom Jr. and his father have worked out a routine that allows him to flourish without feeling like there are any expectations to live up to.

"I like being a junior and I like having Grissom Jr. on my back," he said. "But [my dad] wants me to make my own way and just be good on my own, not just because he's my father."

Creating that sense of separation has been easy, in part, because of the position on the diamond that Grissom Jr. has shown the most promise at. Grissom Sr. was a blazing-fast center fielder who twice led the Majors in stolen bases. Grissom Jr., though, appears to have a bright future on the mound, with a fastball that touches the lower 90s with a dynamic changeup. While he plays shortstop for Atlanta Metro team and provides plenty of offense, as well, he has grown into the idea of becoming a standout pitcher.

"We talk about it all the time," said Juan Grissom, Marquis Jr.'s cousin and a coach with Atlanta Metro. "Anytime someone says, 'Oh, you're Marquis Grissom's son,' they expect this or that out of him. I tell him all the time, 'You're your own person. Be your own self.' And that's the type of person he is. He's not a follower. He sets his own path."

For the past few years, Grissom Jr. has been working with former Major Leaguer Marvin Freeman and has seen his fastball velocity tick up by four or five mph.

Already standing 6-foot-2, Grissom Jr., 17, towers over his father, and his coaches are excited for how he might progress as he continues to grow into his body.

"I tell him, 'Every time you wake up, you look like you've grown an inch," Juan Grissom said. "His body is really filling out. He's bigger than his dad and he's steadily growing. He's learning how to use his body to his advantage."

Grissom Sr. still helps his son and will offer advice to his son when he feels it's needed. But he also has plenty else to keep him busy during the season and hosts an annual celebrity golf tournament every fall. He doesn't feel the need to constantly monitor every one of Grissom Jr.'s games or travel tournaments.

If he has it his way, he won't be the most famous player with the last name "Grissom" in 20 years.

"Even though he's my dad and all, I still have to work and be a great player myself," Grissom Jr. said. "My dad's really been working me to do that. He wants me to be better than him. I want to be better than him, too."

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.