LEAGUE CITY – The Clear Creek baseball field features a decoration recognizing an exclusive club of alumni, and on Saturday, the 20th name was added to it.
In the 12th round of the Major League Baseball first-year players draft, the Chicago Cubs picked right-handed pitcher Tanner Griggs with the 349th overall pick, making him the 20th former Clear Creek baseball player — and second this year — to be picked in the MLB draft.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Griggs said. “It’s something that every baseball player wants to do. It’s one of the reasons I still play the game, for moments like that. But, I still want to get better.”
On Saturday, Griggs watched a live feed of the draft from his family’s home in League City, waiting for his name to go on the draft board. Then in an instant, the household erupted in joy and Griggs found out he would be joining the Cubs organization and would be reporting to its rookie league team in Mesa, Ariz.
For Griggs, a hard work ethic and persistent curiosity to continue learning more and more about the game of baseball helped give him the edge needed to be one of the top baseball prospects this year.
“That’s what gives me an edge — the work ethic side and just learning new things,” Griggs said.
Griggs also made it clear to his new organization that he would be the ultimate team player.
“Whatever the coaches tell me to do, I’m going to do the best job possible,” Griggs said. “I’m the most unselfish person you’ll meet on the baseball field. I have to start a game, if I have to relieve in a game, if I have to close a game, keep a book, I’m going to do the best job possible to help my team win.”
None of this comes as a surprise to Griggs’ former head coach at Clear Creek, who remembers Griggs as an intense and confident competitor.
“Tanner was always fiery and just a very energetic pitcher,” Wildcats head coach Brent Kunefke said. “He just had a very different demeanor.”
After graduating Clear Creek — where he earned several accolades — in 2012, Griggs signed with Angelina College in Lufkin to pitch on the collegiate level.
This season, Griggs compiled a 6-2 record in 12 starts with a 2.09 earned run average and 59 strikeouts in 731/3 innings pitched.
Griggs was the second Clear Creek player taken in this year’s MLB Draft after former teammate Jake Cosart was taken Friday in the third round.
“The way they think about it, for both Jake and Tanner, it’s not about them, it’s about the tradition and about all the people that helped them along the way,” Kunefke said.
This year was the second time two former Wildcats were taken in the same MLB Draft. In 2011, outfielder C.J. McElroy was a third-round pick, and pitcher Chris Morales was taken in the 35th round.