Griffin and Luciano's friendship continues on field in Arizona
Published: Sunday, June 12, 2011
Updated: Monday, June 13, 2011 16:06
Derek Luciano wasn't watching MLB.com's DraftTracker.
Instead, his roommates, Jonathan Griffin and Chase Bradford, were looking out for the UCF third baseman's name.
Griffin had been drafted on Day 2 in the 21st round, and Bradford was selected on Day 3 in the 35th round. The pair hoped to see their other roommate get drafted for the first time.
Then, in round 44, Griffin and Bradford finally saw Luciano's name run across their respective computer screens.
"Once we all found out, we just went nuts," Griffin said.
It wasn't until later that Griffin and Luciano realized that they were both drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Honestly, we didn't even realize it was Arizona until after. We just saw his name and didn't think twice about it but," Griffin laughed, "he's on the same team as me."
Luciano, who had congratulated Griffin and Bradford when each was drafted, finally had his time to celebrate.
"I was very excited, very happy; and especially to be drafted to the Diamondbacks with Jonathan Griffin," Luciano said.
The corner infielders met in high school as rivals in Manatee County, but now it seems as if the two are destined to be teammates forever.
"I've played against him in high school and with him for the past four years and we've become pretty good friends," Luciano said. "It just helps out a lot because it makes you more comfortable wherever you are as long as you've got a good friend with you."
Griffin signed at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota after Luciano had signed. Two years later, the duo played in the Florida Collegiate Summer League for the DeLand Suns during the summer of 2009. After Luciano signed at UCF as part of head coach Terry Rooney's top-4 nationally ranked recruiting class, Griffin did, too.
The two have been roommates for the past two years.
Through the years, Griffin and Luciano had the chance to form an on-field bond to match their off-field friendship.
Griffin said Luciano makes some really good plays and is great defensively.
"He never short-hops me," Griffin said. "If he does make an error, it's because he's throwing it too hard."
Luciano had similar sentiments about his corner-infield counterpart.
"He's my favorite first baseman I've ever played with," Luciano said. "He's a heck of a player. It's always fun. When I'm making bad throws from third, he's a heck of a first baseman."
During one of the last major lineup changes of the season, Griffin moved into the cleanup spot and Luciano began batting fifth. Griffin earned a reputation as the team's power hitter as he banged out 19 home runs, two shy of the single-season record set by Chris Duffy in 2010.
"He's also great to hit behind in the lineup because a lot of teams don't want to pitch to him so they have to pitch to me, which makes it good for me, too," said Luciano, who hit six home runs of his own in his senior season.
And now, after spending four years on three different teams together, Griffin and Luciano head out west to join a fourth team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, where they have the chance to continue to save each other defensively and bat behind one another.
Luciano reported to Phoenix on June 10, two days after he heard his name called. From Phoenix, the third baseman will report to Yakima, Wash., where Arizona's Class A short-season team, the Yakima Bears, plays. Griffin is still unsure of where he is headed, but on Friday he flies to Montana, home of the Missoula Osprey, Arizona's rookie team.
"I haven't played ball west of Texas, so this is a first for me," Griffin said.
As they put in their time, they have the opportunity to move up the system, play for the same minor league teams and potentially live the big league dream together.
"We just became teammates again so that's pretty awesome that I'm going all the way across the country and my best friend's going with me," Griffin said.