Former JSU player, Yankees rookie teaching baseball (The Daily Home)

SYLACAUGA – Former Jacksonville State standout Griff Gordon has been hard at work in his off season workout routine.

Griff Gordon observes while 12-year-old Max Collins demonstrates his swing.

Gordon was drafted in the 27th round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees in June. In preparation for spring training in Tampa, Florida – he’s already spent 2 1/2 months playing there – Gordon has spent most of his offseason working out and honing his batting technique.

The Alexander City native was able to add a little twist to his offseason program this past month, however: For the past five weeks — two days a week — Gordon has played host to batting lessons in the Coosa Valley Medical Center’s batting cages, teaching young baseball players, aged 5 to 16, on proper technique.

“The kids seem really to be into it and into what I’m teaching them, and I think that’s all a lot of progress,” Gordon said. “We’re really working on more of technique … So we’re just working on basic things that you need to know to be able to hit the ball.”

If anyone would know about how to hit a ball, it’d be Gordon.

He set JSU’s single-season record in 2014 by becoming the first player in school history to record 100 hits, breaking Clay Whittemore’s record of 96. With that accomplishment, he became one of just four players in NCAA Division I baseball to record triple digits in hits that season.

Gordon also led the team with 263 at-bats, 55 runs and a .380 batting average his senior season. For his efforts, he earned All-Ohio Valley Conference Second Team honors and made it to the OVC All-Tournament team.

For the first three weeks, Gordon saw eight youngsters a day in 30-minute sessions. Two weeks ago, he added another session, bringing his daily total to five and the number of youngsters he saw to 11, which kept him busy from 2:30 to 8 p.m.

Gordon has been excited about working with the youngsters and thankful for the opportunity to work in the CVMC’s batting cages, which are open to the public for members of Coosa Valley Fitness & Wellness and non-members alike.

Moreover, Gordon’s batting sessions have helped him see where he can improve.

One of the most rewarding things about working with the youngsters, however, was seeing them improve as time wore on. Gordon finished his last sessions Thursday.

“It’s great seeing from where they started at, where they came from, to where they finish,” Griffin said. “I’ve really seen them improve a lot.”

Gordon’s impromptu trips to Sylacauga were arranged by his dad, Johnny, who works as a project manager in purchasing for Blue Bell Creameries.

A work employee whose son plays baseball thought it would be a good idea for Griff to visit and help the youngsters with their batting, and from then on, it was history. Griff was more than happy to make the trek from Alexander City to Sylacauga.

“It’s just good to see him helping other people,” Johnny said.

Now that his batting sessions are over, Griff will resume his normal offseason workout in preparing for spring training. The past few months have been a whirlwind for Griff, who has met numerous people within the Yankees’ organization and in MLB.

Now, Griff ’s main focus will be on preparing as best he can to make it to the big leagues.

“I’ll go to spring training in Tampa, and then, hopefully, depending on how well I do,” Griff said, “depends on which affiliate I go to.”

Regardless, Johnny said he was happy to see Griff in Sylacauga: not just to see his son, but taking out of his own time to help others.

“I’m really proud of him,” Johnny said. “I remember when he was that age and doing the exact same thing we’re doing now. I’m really proud of him. Not just the baseball, but as a person too.”