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USAFA graduate Griffin Jax shares long road to historic MLB appearance

Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 8:10 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - June 8th, 2021 marked history for the United States Air Force Academy.

On that fateful day, Minnesota Twins pitcher Griffin Jax trotted onto the mound at Target Field to start the 9th inning against the New York Yankees. In doing so, Jax became the first USAFA graduate to appear in an MLB game in history.

[It was] everything I ever thought of, ever dreamt of,” Jax said, recalling the night. “Really cool in the moment seeing the lights, the fans. And to debut against the Yankees...pretty cool moment.”

The Twins organization had high hopes for Jax ever since draft day 2016, when the junior was picked by Minnesota in the 3rd round. The following year, graduation day approached at Air Force, and Jax was still unsure what would take precedence: minor league ball, or military commitment.

“It was a just a battle back and forth. There was just so much unknown every single day. It was a lot more than a normal prospect should have to handle early in his career.”

In 2017, now first lieutenant Griffin Jax played five weeks in the minor leagues before active duty came calling. Jax served for two years before being accepted in the World Class Athlete Program and transferred to the reserves.

“I submitted my papers as soon as the day hit. That’s just the thing with the government, everything takes forever. I applied in May, didn’t hear until November, and here I am now.”

Once Jax was back in the Twins farm system, he climbed the ladder quickly. Jax was named an All-Star with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in Class AA, holding a 2.90 ERA in 23 starts throughout 2019. The minor league season was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Jax was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul to start 2021.

On June 5, Jax’s landmark moments for USAFA began. He was called up to the Twins 40-man roster on that day, then made his historic start against the Yankees three days later. Jax allowed three earned runs in one inning of work and registered a strikeout against New York. After being recalled to the St. Paul Saints for a couple of weeks, Jax made his first MLB start (another first for the Air Force Academy) on July 3rd against Kansas City. He pitched five innings, striking out three while allowing 6 earned runs.

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