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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 16, 2005

Griffin gets drafted ’05

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — A bunch of baseballs sit in a row on the mantle of Dan Griffin’s parents’ house in Guilderland.

They are game balls that Griffin sent to his mother as gifts after he used them as a starting pitcher for the Niagara University baseball team.

But soon it will cost Griffin a lot more money to send baseballs to his mother.

Griffin, a 2002 Guilderland High School graduate, was drafted in the fifth round by the San Fransisco Giants on June 7 during Major League Baseball’s draft. He was the 162nd pick in a draft that lasts 50 rounds and includes college and high school players from all over the country.

Griffin, who is negotiating his contract, will most likely sign and head to the Giants’ Rookie League team in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"I was hoping all season that I would get drafted," Griffin said from his house on Saturday. "I was thinking I would go in the top 10 [rounds] so, when I was picked in the fifth round, I was excited. Going in the fifth round was shocking."

"Going into the year," said Niagara Coach Chris Chernisky, "a lot of scouts thought that if he put it all together that he would get drafted. There was a lot of interest by scouts."

Chernisky said that, during the course of the year, at least one scout from all 30 Major League Baseball teams saw Griffin pitch.

"There were scouts during the fall and at our indoor practices," Chrenisky said. "They were there any time Dan Griffin or James Avery were on the mound. They followed us around."

Avery, who is from Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, was drafted 10 picks ahead of Griffin.

Griffin was eligible for the draft because he completed three years of college, though he only pitched for two seasons at Niagara.

He had an arm injury that sidelined him for his entire freshman year.

Griffin said that the Giants had contacted him but it was mostly about the injury.

"Griffin did a tremendous job since his freshman year as a red shirt," Chernisky said. "It was a great decision. But when he got on the ball field, he didn’t do as well as he liked. But this season he battled and things went right for him.

"That is a credit to Dan Griffin," Chernisky added. "It shows his resistance, his coachability, and his competitiveness."

He had also talked to the Cincinatti Reds, the Cleveland Indians, and the Philadelphia Phillies.

"I was thinking one of those three teams," Griffin said, "and probably mostly Philly. But it turned out to be San Francisco."

And that was not disappointing.

"I was just happy to be picked up in the fifth round," Griffin said. "It would be cool to play on the West Coast. It will be beautiful out every day."

Power pitcher

Griffin led the Niagara and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 120 strikeouts. He had a 4.37 earned run average and a 6-4 record, working 78.1 innings in 15 appearances.

"I did pretty well," Griffin said. "I wish my ERA was a little better."

Griffin described himself as a power pitcher, which is helped by his size. According to the Niagara University roster, he is 6 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 225 pounds.

"I have a whip-like arm action," Griffin said. "That helps a lot. I throw on a three-quarters plane so I’m throwing downhill and makes the ball look a little closer. That always helps."

Griffin’s fastball is his strong pitch, but he also throws breaking pitches — slider and curve ball — and a change-up.

"He’s got a hard fastball and solid command of a slider and change-up," Chernisky said.

"He’s got great coachability and attitude," Chernisky added. "He also has size and projectability that lead to a very high level of baseball."

Griffin pitched some as a relief pitcher for the Purple Eagles this season.

"He was a starter for the entire year," Chernisky said. "But we didn’t have a guy that could close out games for us. Dan went out there and was perfect for us."

Homegrown talent

Griffin started playing baseball as a child and played in the Pine Bush Little League.

"I started when I was like six or seven," he said.

He played for Guilderland High School, making the varsity as a sophomore, but moved to Orange County in the southern part of New York for his junior year of high school.

He returned to Guilderland for his senior season to play for Doug LaValley.

"He’s a great guy," Griffin said of LaValley. "He taught me a lot."

Griffin also played for summer-league teams including the South Troy Dodgers.

Griffin was the highest draft out of several local players who were drafted.

"It shows that there’s talent everywhere," Griffin said. "There’s talent up here. We might not have the weather or the resources like down south. It’s great to see people up north get a chance."

Griffin also sees getting drafted as helping out the Guilderland program.

"They had some pitchers that were solid," he said. "This shows that, if you work hard, you can make it. It really helps out the school, especially the program. LaValley is a great coach. He helped me on and off the field."

Griffin made a promise to LaValley and his parents and friends that he will finish his education. He only has three semesters to finish before he receives a diploma. At Niagara, he majored in business administration.

"It is important to me," Griffin said. "I’ll take some classes in the fall. I made a promise to several people."

"We support Dan Griffin," Chernisky said. "We know that he is ready to move on and start his pro career."

This season, Griffin’s long-held dream of becoming a professional player turned into a goal and became a reality on June 7.

"Probably, at the beginning of the season, I started thinking of it as a goal," Griffin said. "Then it just picked up and I knew it was realistic as it got closer to the 7th."

Griffin also has other goals that he knows will take some time to accomplish.

"I would like to get to the minors and do well," he said. "Hopefully, I can move up through the system quickly then I can be up on TV in the big leagues."

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