Griffin begins to follow brother's steps

Rays prospect pitches five scoreless innings in first pro start

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to | June 29, 2013 6:08 PM ET

There's already one Griffin brother in the Major Leagues. Now another is beginning his journey to join him there.

Aaron Griffin made his first Minor League start on Saturday night for short-season Hudson Valley after three appearances out of the bullpen. The younger sibling of A's right-hander A.J. Griffin allowed three hits over five innings as the Renegades cruised to a 9-0 triumph at Brooklyn.

The 21-year-old said he kept the Cyclones in check by commanding the strike zone, relying on control much in the same way his brother does in the big leagues.

"I definitely try to stay in the zone the entire time. I can stretch it when I need to, but I want to keep in the zone, make them earn it against me," he said. "I try to get ahead and stay ahead, and if I fall behind, keep throwing it in the zone and make the guys earn their way on base."

Griffin said he throws four-seam and two-seam fastballs, a changeup, cutter and slider and works for the most part between 88-92 mph. After fanning five without walking a batter against the Cyclones, he lowered his ERA to 3.29 and has 10 strikeouts against no walks over 14 2/3 innings.

In his last appearance, also against Brooklyn, he came out of the bullpen and fired off four one-hit frames.

Selected by the Rays in the 10th round of this month's Draft out of Loyola Marymount, Griffin said there have been a few things he learned from A.J. as he made his way up the ladder that he could put to use in the first few weeks of his pro career.

"It's very beneficial to have him in my life, just because I can pick his brain. Just to see his experience in the Minor Leagues, watch him progress, how he changed his approach at every level and still succeed and throw strikes," the younger Griffin said. "He's not an overpowering guy, either, but he's in the zone and that's the biggest thing that I've taken from him -- to go after everybody and don't be scared of anybody. They still have to earn it."

In his final season at Loyola Marymount, Griffin went 4-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 88 innings, striking out 72 and walking 21. One of the first things he noticed as a pro was the difference between pitching to metal bats and wooden ones.

"You can come inside, they won't get as many cheap hits against you. That's been a huge part of it for me," the California native said. "I'm just trying to build and progress throughout my time here. It's a short season, so I'm trying to get used to the new pitching style, against wood bats, and get back into midseason form after taking a few weeks off. Felt like I came in a little rusty, so I'm just trying to get back to where I was and go from there."

Eli Echarry (2-0) followed Griffin and scattered four hits over four innings to get the win. Jaime Schultz worked a 1-2-3 ninth to finish off the Renegades' New York-Penn League-leading third shutout of the season.

Offensively, Johnny Field, Oscar Hernandez and Darryl George each drove in two runs for Hudson Valley.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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