Pipeline Q&A: Royals' Foster Griffin

March 9th, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Royals camp, it was Kansas City's No. 10 prospect, .
Griffin was taken by the Royals in the first round of the 2014 Draft with the 29th pick out of The First Academy in Florida after he helped his high school become the only non-California team to win USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. He spent most of the 2017 season in Double-A and pitched in the All-Star Futures Game. He led the system in wins and strikeouts and finished second in ERA.
Royals camp report
:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::
MLB Pipeline: You've reached the upper levels and now you're in big league camp. Did you come to Spring Training this year realizing you're that much closer to the ultimate goal?
Griffin: Yes. It's cool in here, you see all the guys who have been playing in the big leagues, playing on TV when you're in the Minor League clubhouse watching games. Now you're here with them. We're kind of in the same boat for spring. It's been fun to be able to learn from them, knowing you're knocking on the door and I'm treated the same way they are in big league camp.
MLB Pipeline: Any veteran in particular who has taken you under their wing or you've learned the most from?
Griffin: Not really. As a whole, everyone in this organization is very open. There isn't anyone who "big leagues" anybody. All the rotation guys have been really good to me. Not anyone specific, but it's been great being able to watch the way they work and practice, how they go about their business, has been a really cool experience to learn from.
MLB Pipeline: Is there anything you've noticed in how they go about their business that made you say, 'OK, this is how I need to do this?'
Griffin: Especially in their bullpen sessions, the way they get their work done as they work on how they put guys away. Instead of just working on your fastball, going fastball arm side, fastball glove side, throw a few curveballs, a few changeups, they work on sequences. So if it's 0-1 and I go in, then now I'm going to go changeup away. If I go fastball up 0-2, now I'm going to go breaking ball down. They really work on their craft as far as putting guys away in counts like that.
MLB Pipeline: You had a certain pattern for much of your Minor League career, when you'd get to a new level and struggle, then return to that level and figure it out. Last year was the first you really didn't do that. While that's not as smooth a path as you'd want, was there some good learning that came from that?
Griffin: I've had talks with J.J. Picollo, the assistant GM, and others in the front office. They all say, 'We want you to have some trials and bumps in the road. That way you know how to overcome them.' You're going to have trials and bumps in the road in the big leagues, so it's been a great learning experience. As far as last year goes, I established some confidence in Wilmington and when I was going to Northwest Arkansas, I mentally just told myself that I wasn't going to have that bump in the road this time. I'm going to treat these hitters the same. I'm not going to pitch scared. I'm going to attack the zone. That's what I ended up doing and it worked out pretty well. I'm going to try to roll into the 2018 season with the same mindset.
MLB Pipeline: Is that what the issue was, mostly? You were giving the hitters at the new level too much credit?
Griffin: Definitely. I'd get to the next level and I'd try to nibble at corners way too much, pitch away from them, pitch to their weakness, rather than to my strengths. Last year, I stuck with my strength in attacking the zone, putting them behind in the count, staying towards the thirds of the plate instead of the corners early in the count. I think that was a big thing for me.
MLB Pipeline: You threw two-thirds of an inning in the Futures Game. That's a small amount on just one day, but what kind of motivation has that provided for you?
Griffin: The Futures Game was an awesome experience. I'd never experienced anything quite like it. I did some events in high school, but the Futures Game was next level. They treated you like big leaguers, in a big league stadium, and you're playing with the best of the best in the Minor Leagues. It was a lot of fun. It's something I'll never forget.
MLB Pipeline: Was it hard to go back to the Texas League after that?
Griffin: Not really. We were in the playoffs. We were in the second half at that point, so I was ready to get back with the team, get back to work and get ready for the playoffs.
MLB Pipeline: You had a good playoff start. Had you ever pitched in the postseason before?
Griffin: I hadn't. That was the first winning team I had been on in the Minor Leagues, so that was fun. To pitch in the playoffs was a cool experience. The atmosphere was fun; everyone was ready to play. It's a different kind of vibe.
MLB Pipeline: I saw you pitch at USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. Your high school is still the only non-California team to win it. You were teammates with Phillies 2017 first-rounder Adam Haseley. He went on to college, you signed out of high school. How often do you guys compare notes about where you are and the paths you've taken?
Griffin: We actually lived together this offseason. We got an apartment. We did a little bit of that. Our relationship goes way past baseball. We've been friends since sixth grade, something like that. We came up together, played baseball together through high school. We do compare notes a little. It's been interesting to see what the college route was like and he did instructional leagues, so now he knows a little bit about how the pro thing works. He went his route and I went mine and we're both in the same boat now. We'll see it come full circle.