Griffin Canning is a right-handed pitcher for UCLA. A three-year letter winner at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Canning become a top prospect in the Perfect Game showcase and earned a 38th round selection from the Colorado Rockies in the 2014 MLB Draft.
At UCLA he became one of the top starters in the Pac-12 conference and walked just six batters in 63.2 innings as a freshman. Canning tossed four complete games the following season and elevated his performance this spring, going 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA in his first 12 starts, while striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings.
Serving as the Friday starter for UCLA, Canning assumes the role as the club’s ace and possesses the tools most scouts envision from a starting pitcher. Although his fastball sits in the low to mid-90s, he records the majority of his strikeouts with his curveball and slider on the outside part of the plate, forcing hitters to expand the strike zone.
The 6’1”, 165-pound Canning also throws a changeup to contrast his fastball with above-average control of each of his offerings. In a sense, he is a throwback to an era when pitchers sought to outwit hitters rather than overpower them with velocity. Despite his excellent command, questions linger whether Canning is capable of maintaining his overhead delivery and attack hitters in the inside part of the plate.
A teammate of James Kaprielian during his freshman season at UCLA in 2015, the possibility remains likely that Canning also becomes the Yankees’ first-round selection in the upcoming MLB Draft as indicated in some projections. The Yankees also displayed a tendency in recent years to select players from California in the early rounds of the draft (Kaprielian, Drew Finley, and Nolan Martinez) and could choose to take a pitcher in the first round this year after opting for UCLA commit Blake Rutherford as an outfielder with their top pick last June. With three quality Pac-12 seasons under his belt, Canning has the resume of a first round draft pick in a deep class of college pitchers.