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Konnor Griffin Named Baseball America’s 2024 High School Player Of The Year


In a summer traveling around the most prestigious high school showcases and to Taiwan with USA Baseball’s 18U National Team, the most valuable lesson Konnor Griffin learned is to put his headphones in.

The headphones are a metaphor. He is not physically inserting AirPods, in this case, but the results are very much real.

Griffin was in the midst of a rare slump early last summer, suffering a difficult 2-for-12 weekend while he was trying to solidify his status as a top 2024 prospect and secure a spot on Team USA.

He did not feel like himself in the batter’s box. Back home with his father, he regained that feeling and did everything he could to keep it.

“I was letting too many people mess with my mind a little bit,” Griffin said. “A lot of people were giving me advice, and I really just had to go back to my parents, (who told) me about having a small circle of people to trust.

“It’s always just been me and my dad with hitting. Some scouts would tell me things I need to change—some coaches would—and I’m trying to listen and please everybody. But that’s what I feel like was causing the most trouble because I was thinking so much.

“Once I was able to do that, I kind of put the headphones on when other people are around and try not to listen to everyone. When people try to talk to me about my swing, I’m going to listen. I’m going to be coachable (and) say, ‘Yes, sir.’

“But I have to let it go through one ear and out the other.”

With the headphones in place, Griffin returned to Jackson Prepatory School in Mississippi for his senior year. He led the Patriots to their seventh consecutive 6A state championship, hitting .559/.690/.966 with nine home runs. He set school records with 85 stolen bases and 47 walks.

Griffin maintained his status as the top prep prospect for the 2024 draft. And now he can add another accolade: BA High School Player of the Year.

“I felt like I was myself again,” Griffin said. “Once I got some good swings off and I was rolling, I felt like, ‘All right, I’m the player who can be at the top of these mock drafts and all of these rankings.’”

Previous BA High School Players Of The Year

For a top-flight prospect interested in keeping a small circle, Griffin would be hard-pressed to find a better spot for it.

Jackson Prep is located in Flowood, a suburb of state capital Jackson. It is a hotbed for talent in Mississippi. It is located five miles from the Double-A Mississippi Braves and fewer than 200 miles away from four Southeastern Conference schools.

The Jackson Prep coaching staff is loaded with experience. Assistant Chris Maloney was a long-time minor league manager—including two seasons with Mississippi—and also a major league coach for the Cardinals.

Another assistant coach is Jay Powell, a 1993 first-round pick out of Mississippi State. He pitched 11 big league seasons for five different teams and won Game 7 of the 1997 World Series for the Marlins.

Jackson Prep head coach Brent Heavener said one of the most enjoyable aspects of Griffin’s senior season was watching Griffin and Powell grow closer and talk about the higher levels of baseball that await Griffin.

“Baseball-wise, Konnor’s going to take care of it,” Powell said. “That part of it, he’s going to do what it takes and make adjustments. The thing I’ve tried to do with it—professional baseball, it’s a different animal.

“I’ve tried to do my best to prepare him for that part of it, for the things he’s going to be faced with when he gets into professional baseball.

“It wasn’t like, ‘Konnor, you and I need to talk.’ It was just in the batting cage, hanging around—normal conversations. We all care about him and we all want to see him succeed. We’re all just trying to plant little bits of information that might help him out.”

Powell said those conversations began in earnest around the beginning of Griffin’s senior season. That’s when the draft circus around Griffin really began, something everyone at Jackson Prep saw coming years in advance.

Heavener brought Griffin onto the varsity team when he was in eighth grade, when Jackson Prep had five future Division I college players on a state championship team. Griffin did little more than run bases as a pinch-runner that season, but he immediately took over the shortstop role in 2022 as a freshman.

“He was performing like some of the seniors were who were going off to play Division I,” Heavener said. “He was able to handle the pressure of winning. You really started to see it in his ninth-grade year that he’s on a different level.

“He may not just be a college athlete. He may be more than that.”

Talk of reclassifying started after that freshman year and became a reality after his sophomore season, when Griffin skipped his junior year to become a part of the 2024 draft class.

“I felt like I could push myself a little more, and jumping up a grade would be good for me,” Griffin said. “I did face some challenges that I would not have faced with guys who were a little younger than me.”

A summer filled with prep showcases and academic responsibilities to be on track for 2024—he once took a history test in his hotel room between summer games—was also a year that saw him dedicate to baseball for the first time. He stopped football after his freshman year and basketball more recently.

With Griffin dedicating offseason training to baseball, Heavener saw the biggest improvement in his baserunning. Griffin increased his stolen base output. He once drew six pickoff attempts in the span of one at-bat, an attempt to slow him down.

Baseball-only training put Griffin on track to stand in the spotlight during his senior season. Not only did Griffin serve as Jackson Prep’s star shortstop, but he also served as ace of the pitching staff. He went 10-0 with a 0.72 ERA, striking out 107 and walking 26 in 67.2 innings.

If that weren’t enough, Griffin has experience in center field on the showcase circuit.

Heavener said Jackson Prep had two practices all season without a scout in attendance, and at times there were as many as 15 to 20 attending one practice or one game. Along with the scouts came a lot of noise to cancel out with the headphones.

Griffin credits LSU assistant coach Josh Jordan for the headphones approach. He described to Griffin how well Dylan Crews did it on his way to becoming the second overall pick in 2023.

This year’s draft will determine if Griffin, who is committed to LSU, will follow Crews’ steps
to Baton Rouge or be an early first-round pick.

For the time being, the headphones mentality has helped Griffin remain productive on the field and largely unchanged off of it. Heavener witnessed that through the relationship Griffin has with Heavener’s 4-year-old daughter, whom Griffin acknowledged before every Jackson Prep at-bat. Griffin and his girlfriend attended her dance recital after the season.

“I’m sure like any 18-year-old kid, it may have worn on him a little bit, but you would never know it,” Heavener said. “He never showed like, ‘Man, I’m tired of this stuff.’

“He just kept grinding every day and really came to work, because in the end this is what it’s going to be like. There’s gonna be cameras on, and there’s gonna be people watching it.

“He just took it in stride and went with it.”

Brett Hudson is a freelance writer based in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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