KC Royals: Is Foster Griffin ready for a comeback?

KC Royals, Foster Griffin (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Foster Griffin (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

A major league debut is a momentous occasion for any ballplayer who gets the opportunity to reach that milestone. It should be one of celebration, especially if the player performs well. But for pitcher Foster Griffin, his big league debut with the KC Royals last season was something less.

Griffin appeared in relief against the Tigers July 27—his birthday—and pitched well. He lasted 1.2 innings and notched his first win in Kansas City’s 14-6 victory. What soured the moment, and limited him to such a short stint, was an elbow issue. An MRI revealed Griffin had suffered a UCL tear.

Since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2020, Griffin has been on the long road to recovery, including pitching in the minors. But Griffin may be nearing the end of that road—he’s had a couple of solid performances since his promotion to Triple-A Omaha this month.

Foster Griffin has pitched fairly well for the KC Royals’ Triple-A club.

After spending the majority of this season working on his rehab with Kansas City’s Arizona Complex League, Low-A and Double-A teams, Griffin is pitching at Omaha. His first rehab assignment with the Storm Chasers came Aug. 18, when he pitched 3.1 innings with three strikeouts and four walks, and allowed two runs on four hits.

He improved in his next start a week later when he threw four innings, struck out four and allowed no walks, and surrendered only one run on three hits in Omaha’s 6-1 victory over Iowa. A gradual progression, these numbers suggest Griffin is well on his way to getting back to the majors soon, something he well deserves after his rehab work in the minors.

Griffin was the KC Royals’ first round draft selection in 2014, but was inconsistent in his stops in the Royals’ farm system. He spent three years in A-ball before being promoted to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Griffin spent two years with the Naturals, and in 2018, notched a 5.13 ERA, struck out 117 batters, and walked only 40 in 152.2 innings.

In 2019, Griffin was promoted to Omaha, where he posted a 5.23 ERA and recorded 111 strikeouts in 130.2 innings. His strikeouts certainly caught the KC Royals’ eye when he was promoted to the majors in 2020 before his elbow injury derailed him.

Griffin has been strong in his recovery, though. He had a 3.55 ERA, 13 strikeouts, and only two walks in 12.2 innings at Double-A. And his Omaha stats currently reflect a 2.45 ERA, seven strikeouts, and four walks in 7.1 innings.

Although he may not be called up this season with a little more than one month left to go, and the Royals seem to be treating Griffin’s recovery and rehabilitation carefully, don’t be surprised if his name is called in 2022 (barring, of course, any major setbacks in his recovery).

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After suffering a UCL tear in his major league debut, KC Royals pitcher Foster Griffin’s long road to recovery may be near its end.