Griffin Canning, UCLA

UCLA righthander Griffin Canning (Shotgun Spratling)


Canning Grasps Destiny As True Ace

Golden Spikes Spotlight

Even before Griffin Canning ever threw a Division I pitch, UCLA’s coaching staff knew it had a future ace on its hands.

“Canning is special,” UCLA coach John Savage said in November of 2014, the fall of Canning’s freshman year. “Canning is really good — you’re going to love Canning. He’s 88-91, curveball anytime. Slider, changeup, athletic — you’re going to love him.”

UCLA’s recruiting coordinator at the time, T.J. Bruce (now head coach at Nevada), was even more specific in his forecast for the tall righthander.

“When you go out and evaluate players, it’s about three pitches. If you can command three pitches, you’ll be pretty good for a long time, and that’s what he does,” Bruce said that fall. “There’s more velo in there too, in my opinion. I think he has a chance to be 93-94 every day, with some maturity of the body. The biggest thing is the fastball command is special.”

Fast-forward a few years, and the words of Savage and Bruce seem prescient. Canning has been a key contributor on UCLA’s staff for three years, going 15-11, 3.26 in 234.2 innings over the course of his career. He’s having his best season as a junior, with a 2.77 ERA and a 78-20 strikeout-walk mark in 61.2 innings.

Canning has also taken the velocity jump that Bruce predicted, and he has blossomed into a likely first-round pick who could be the first college pitcher drafted on the West Coast this June. Of course, the velocity gains were accompanied by a few growing pains during the middle part of this season.

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