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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Ty Griffin knew importance of a degree, even as first-rounder; Played nine seasons, made AA, then finished school

The Cubs saw enough in Ty Griffin in 1988 to select him ninth overall in the draft, a selection Griffin told his hometown Tampa Tribune was too good to pass up.

Still, he knew baseball wasn't going to last forever. He knew he would someday return to finish his schooling, he told The Tribune.

"I'm going to give professional baseball a shot, then come back and finish my degree work no matter what happens," Griffin told The Tribune after his selection that June, adding he hoped to be in the majors in two years. "But I also know how important getting that college degree is."

Griffin went on to play as a pro over nine seasons, but he never did make the majors. He topped out with the Cubs at AA. He did, however, return to finish that degree. He then used that to stay in sports, as an agent - and in education as a high school dean and coach.

Griffin's career began that year in 1988, taken by the Cubs in the first round of the draft out of Georgia Tech.

He joined the Cubs the next year, after representing the United States on the 1988 U.S. Olympic baseball team in Seoul. He hit .416.

Griffin started with the Cubs between single-A Peoria and AA Charlotte. In 45 games at Charlotte in 1989, he hit .231.

He then returned to Charlotte for 78 more games in 1990 and saw 33 at high-A Winston-Salem. He hit .211 on the year.

Griffin also worked changing positions. He played second base in college, but, with that spot taken in the majors, the Cubs moved him to third, The Charlotte Observer wrote. Griffin had trouble adjusting, committing errors as a result and impacting elsewhere.

"You're definitely not seeing that picture perfect swing," Griffin told The Observer that June while in the middle of a slump. "I'm up there thinking about a bad throw I made, or how I'm not playing smooth at third base I'm just not 100 percent."

Griffin again played between Charlotte and Winston-Salem in 1990 and his average improved little, to .221 on the year.

He moved to the Reds system and AA Chattanooga for 1992, then to independent Thunder Bay in 1993 and Sioux City for 1994.

Griffin played one more season of affiliated ball at AA for the Cardinals in 1995, then moved back to independent ball. He played his final two seasons at independent Grand Forks. He hit .277 over 66 games there in 1997 to end his career.

In 2008, The Grand Forks Herald caught up with Griffin. By then, he'd long finished school and joined StarTrust Management as an agent. 

"A lot of guys see a college career as buying time to get to the professional level," Griffin told The Herald. "I didn't. I wanted to better myself and make sure I had something I'd love doing is baseball didn't happen."

Griffin then became a high school coach. He continues as an assistant dean and coach at Tampa Catholic High School in 2021.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,583
Made the Majors:1,242-34.7%
Never Made Majors:2,341-65.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:517
10+ Seasons in the Minors:305

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