Griffin Jax's Baseball Career Resumes
Image courtesy of David McQueen (photo of Griffin Jax)When the Twins made Griffin Jax their third-round draft choice in 2016, he became the highest player ever selected from the Air Force. At the time, it was assumed that Jax would be able to play full-time upon his graduation in May of 2017. That was something that was allowed for athletes, to immediately pursue a professional career after graduation.
However, in April of 2017, the Department of Defense changed its policy. Now it would be required to serve two years of active duty after graduation before a person could even apply to serve out their time on reserve status for the purpose of playing pro sports.
Jax, who pitched in four games for Elizabethton in 2016 after the draft, figured he would only be able to pitch in the Twins organization during his leaves from his active duty. Last summer, he pitched one game for Elizabethton before making four starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Having graduated, he was assigned to serve in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The assumption was that he would do the same in 2018 and maybe even 2019.
However, in December Jax applied for the military’s World Class Athlete Program which allows active-duty military personnel to make training for the Olympics their full-time responsibility. Because of Jax’s draft position and his signing bonus, he was able to fit the “World Class Athlete” criteria. Also, because baseball is again an Olympic sport Jax can be training toward that goal.
That’s complex, but it gets even more confusing in a way because military personnel can’t earn a second income. In other words, the Twins could not pay Jax to play for the organization. That’s why it took from December (when Jax applied for the program) until into April (when Jax was approved). Finally, an agreement was made that the Twins could “outfit, feed and cover Jax’s travel.” However, the Air Force will pay him.
Jax made his way to Ft. Myers on April 24th to begin his extended spring training. On Friday, Jax threw his first live batting practice. It’s something he will likely do another time or two over the next week. At that point, he may make a start or two in EST games. And then he should be assigned to a full-season roster. After just four starts in Cedar Rapids in 2017, he could go there. Depending on where he’s at, he could jump directly to the Ft. Myers Miracle.
All that is to be determined over the next week or two. For now, Jax is just excited to be back on the mound and to have some resolution to his situation.
As he told The Gazette (Colorado Springs) after the decision, “It was just an awesome feeling hearing, 'yes,' finally.”
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