SCF alum Jonathan Griffin ready to rebound for Diamondbacks in 2014

Slugger adjusts after tough season in D'backs system

jdill@bradenton.comJanuary 26, 2014 

BAYSHORE GARDENS -- It isn't always a smooth ride to the big leagues.

Often, there are growing pains on the road to The Show.

Jonathan Griffin endured that last season, and the former Lakewood Ranch High and State College of Florida baseball star says he is a better player because of it.

In 2012, Griffin hit .304 with 28 home runs and 102 RBIs between Single-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

In 2013, the struggles came.

His average plummeted to .259 between Visalia and Mobile, and he popped just 10 homers with 62 RBIs.

"It was very humbling," Griffin said. "I was coming off two great seasons. And I haven't failed. I didn't fail until last season. ... I learned a lot from it. Everyone is going to go through it. ... I think it happened for me at a pretty good time. That way I wasn't knocking on the door for the big leagues and didn't just get into pro ball. I think it was a good time for me to learn from it and now move forward from it."

Griffin was in town Saturday for SCF's alumni game. The Manatees open the season Friday at Palm Beach State College.

Griffin got the chance to work with the Diamondbacks' hitting coordinator, Alan Cockrell. Cockrell's experience -- he worked with Todd Helton during

his time with the Colorado Rockies -- paid off for the 6-foot-6 slugger.

"He simplified the mechanics to more basics," Griffin said. "Because I'm a power guy, I don't need to generate as much, so he really just simplified that so I could have a consistent swing. So he simplified my mechanics, and then mentally he gave me an approach that I could work with that worked for me. My approach would be to look for a pitch I could handle away and just kind of react to everything in. And in doing that, I can pick out my zone. I can recognize offspeed (pitches) easier."

Griffin also suffered an injury to his hand that put him out of action for the month of August, the final month of the minor league season.

It was his left hand, the same one he injured while he was at SCF, and it came just as Griffin was improving from Cockrell's tips.

At SCF, Griffin healed in a month.

This time, the broken hand took more time to heal.

"When I broke it this year, I was in Arizona for about a month to a month and a half," Griffin said. "I came back in mid-October, and it still wasn't healed all the way. I took an X-ray, and they released me to do all baseball activities and play, but it feels fine. The strength is there."

On the strength of his monster 2012 campaign, Griffin earned an invite to major league spring training.

And while that isn't happening this season, Griffin is poised to put the bad stretch behind him.

"I think he's got a shot to do a really good job," said SCF head coach Tim Hill II, an assistant coach during Griffin's time at SCF.

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