The LA Angels have been looking for as many good athletes as possible in the MLB Amateur Draft each year. Jo Adell and Jordyn Adams the Angels 1st round picks from 2017 and 2018 fit that mold. The Angels can add one more to that list in 2017 draftee Spencer Griffin.
When the LA Angels selected Spencer Griffin from Wharton Junior College, which is less than an hour from where Griffin grew up in Sugarland, Texas (suburb of Houston), he played both football and baseball. He played both sports until he met coach Dennis Carter who changed Griffin’s path.
“My coach in high school Dennis Carter, who was more than just a coach, he was my best friend. Coach Carter was the first person to ever believe in me. He was the first person to tell me I could be a professional baseball player,” Griffin said. “I never knew anything about it (baseball). He kind of just took me by the hand and brought me to where I am today. Coach Carter took me to some camps and showcases which got me seen by major league scouts and here I am.”
When Griffin was drafted by the Angels in June of 2017 he was overjoyed, but he wished that Carter could have been there to share the moment with him and his family, unfortunately Carter died of cancer early in 2016 while Griffin was playing in junior college.
“Coach Carter was my everything right up until he died on Valentine’s Day in 2016. He is pretty much my angel. I’m just blessed to have crossed paths with him,” Griffin said. “I carry him with me everywhere I go on my shin guards, my batting gloves, everything. It is the way I keep his legacy alive.”
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Since Griffin started playing for the Angels in 2017 his athleticism was on display. He has great speed and also a very good arm to boot. His hitting is still left something to be desired as he has a career .231 batting average in two-plus seasons in the minors. However, in the last month Griffin raised his batting average nearly 50 points and hit five home runs and drove in 21 runs which was good enough to get him a promotion to High Single-A Inland Empire after spending 96 games in Low Single-A Burlington.
Overall in 2019 Griffin is hitting .243 with eight homers and 36 RBIs with 12 stolen bases with a .347 OBP. Griffin is just trying to work his way up in the Angels system and make it to the majors which would fulfill a dream for Griffin.
“I have been hitting the ball better as of late, but I still want to get better in the last month of the season,” Griffin said. “I got a chance to play next to Trout in Spring Training which was very cool and I would love to do that on a permanent basis. Playing in the majors would be a dream come true. I got to watch Trout and Pujols take BP, it was amazing because they were my idols growing up. To see them in person I was kind of star-struck, but it was amazing watching them close up because they are the best in the game.”
For the past year and a half Griffin played for Low Single-A Burlington where he had the opportunity to play alongside Angels top prospects Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh. Both helped Griffin grow and learn the game better and then there is Burlington manager, long-time Angel Jack Howell. Griffin credits Howell immensely for helping grow as a player especially the mental side of it.
“Jack’s awesome. He is a great encourager. In some of my lowest times Jack was always there. He buys a lot into mental aspect of the game and he preaches that to us,” Griffin said. “Jack takes all of his experiences he had in the big leagues and uses them to help us grow and get better. I am so blessed to have had Jack Howell as my manager.”
Now that Griffin has been promoted to High Single-A in Inland Empire he is one step closer to his goal of making it to the majors, but he knows there is still a lot of work to do to get there.
“Anytime you go up a level its going to be a challenge, but now that I’m up here I going to keep going out there and competing each day and work as hard as i can,” Griffin said. “It’s great that I have so many guys up here that I played with earlier in the year. Definitely has made me feel more comfortable. When I got the call that I was coming up to Inland Empire I tried to play it cool, but I was jumping up and down inside. I know I just have to keep going out there and work hard and keep improving my game until I am good enough to play in the majors.”
When Griffin does make it to the majors Coach Dennis Carter will be looking down on him and smiling knowing that Griffin has achieved his ultimate goal.