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Royals' Griffin perfect in fourth pro start
28th overall pick retires all nine batters, drops Appy ERA to 1.04
07/12/2014 10:02 PM ET
Foster Griffin has struck out six and walked three over 8 2/3 innings with Burlington. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

There are just some names that just follow you, wherever you go.

Pitching for the Foster Academy Royals as a senior this spring, Foster Griffin put up a 1.55 ERA with 99 strikeouts and only 19 walks in 58 2/3 innings and helped the team win the National High School Invitational championship in March. He surged up Draft boards, was ranked as the No. 28 Draft prospect by MLB.com and was taken 28th overall on the nose last month by ...

... the Royals.

"Right when I got drafted, I was hearing from a lot of friends, coaches and other people, calling me 'forever a Royal' or a 'forever Royal,'" Griffin said. "It's a little cliche, but it's really cool how that worked out."

If his first four starts are any indication, the Kansas City organization wouldn't mind one bit if those newfound titles held up.

The 18-year-old left-hander tossed three perfect innings Saturday to help Rookie-level Burlington beat Johnson City, 3-1, in front of 3,076 at Burlington Athletic Stadium.

Foster began his night by fanning Casey Turgeon and catching Oscar Mercado looking for two quick strikeouts. That pair of punchouts, both of which came against right-handed hitters, would be the southpaw's only K's of the evening, but he felt they tilted the tables in his direction right from the get-go.

"We had a really nice crowd here tonight, so I was a little nervous, to be honest," Griffin said. "But when I got those first two right away, I felt like I settled into a groove and got it going. The rest of my time out there, I was plenty settled down, so that was nice."

The Orlando native retired the next seven Cardinals before exiting after three frames in the longest outing of his four-start professional career. He needed only 28 pitches and relied heavily on one offering to get there.

"The fastball command was the big thing for me," Griffin said of his low-90s heater. "I was really working it in and out to each hitter, and the fastball had some nice run on it, too, which made it that more effective. I didn't really throw the curveball too much and I only threw one changeup, I think. It was just get ahead with the fastball and go from there."

Despite his efficiency, the plan was always to take him out after three innings. After starting him on a 30-pitch/two-inning plan in his first two outings, the Royals have increased his workload to 45 pitches or three innings, whichever comes first. Once that second line was hit, Griffin's night was over.

The outline comes from the organization's big plans for their first-rounder, whom it excitedly took with the pick it received as compensation for losing Ervin Santana to free agency last offseason.

"He's got a really, really advanced feel for pitching and a really advanced feel for his body. Very athletic. He's got three pitches that he commands now," Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg told MLB.com in June. "I see him as a really advanced high school arm. We were really excited that he was there. Know the family, know the kid, outstanding makeup."

With 58 2/3 innings already under Griffin's belt in 2014, the Royals were just hoping to get his professional feet wet by sending him to Burlington. The move, limits and all, has worked well so far as he's allowed one run on three hits and three walks with six strikeouts over 8 2/3 innings.

As for Griffin's own professional blueprints, they're just kicking in. He admits he only just received the first of the three payments from his $1.925 million signing bonus with no plans yet for his first big financial splash. Instead, his focus remains on making sure his transition to being a "forever Royal" is a smooth one.

"The first couple starts here have been just about learning what to do, how to get ready each time out," he said. "Everything's becoming more and more routine, so I'm feeling more settled in as it goes along. Once you're on the mound, it's not a huge difference from what I'm used to, so I'm using that to my advantage, too."

Right-hander Julio Pinto (3-0) got the win for the B-Royals, allowing a run on two hits and three walks with six strikeouts over six frames.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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