Marquis Grissom Jr. was just 4 years old when his father Marquis Grissom Sr. was playing his final major-league season with the San Francisco Giants in 2005. Although he was just a youngster, Grissom Jr. remembers goofing around with legendary outfielder Barry Bonds in the clubhouse after a game.
Grissom Jr. also recalls standing in the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse listening to Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn give him baseball advice during the 2009 season when his father was the first base coach.
Baseball already has played a major role throughout the 18-year-old’s life. He leans on his father, who was an outfielder for six teams throughout his 17-year major-league career, for guidance and support. But he also is trying not to let his father’s career define him, and instead, eventually hopes to have a professional baseball career himself.
“He helps me all the time,” Grissom said. “He wants me to be better than him. He’s willing to help me with anything I do, no matter if it’s baseball or not.”
Grissom will have the chance to embark on a professional career in June. The Georgia prep right-handed pitcher is one of the top prospects in the 2020 MLB draft class, as scouts currently peg him as an early-round talent.
Despite his bloodlines and success throughout his first three years of high school, Grissom said he didn’t realize his professional potential until this year.
He’s friends with Georgia native Nasim Nunez, who was a second-round pick by the Miami Marlins in June. Grissom attended the infielder’s draft party and watched as Nunez heard his name called.
The experience sparked thoughts in Grissom’s mind about how he potentially could be sitting in Nunez’s place in 2020. Grissom also played in the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship in mid-October and pitched in front of hundreds of professional talent evaluators.
After the event, his father sat him down and talked with him about the draft process and what he should expect until the three-day draft begins June 8, Grissom said.
“This is what I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s coming up on me soon,” Grissom said. “It was making me nervous, but it’s something I really want to do. That’s why I am working hard this offseason and just getting ready for the season.”
Grissom is a 6-foot-2, 186-pound right-hander who has an obvious passion for baseball with an ideal work ethic and team-first mentality.
He throws on a downhill plain from a high three-quarters arm slot and features consistency with his delivery. He throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup and power-breaking curveball. His fastballs sit in the low 90s.
He isn’t afraid to throw to contact. He has confidence in his changeup and has experience throwing the pitch on a regular basis. This offseason, Grissom hopes to refine his curveball and develop a better feel for the offering.
Besides refining his four-pitch mix, Grissom has dedicated six days each week to working out. He wants to add muscle to his lean and athletic frame this offseason.
“The main focus for me is getting stronger and having a good feel for three pitches and just giving my best 100 percent every time I step onto the field,” Grissom said.
Grissom spent his summer leading up to his senior year of high school competing in different baseball events. His summer was highlighted by the first annual PDP League, which is a three-week, invite-only event put on by MLB and USA Baseball and held from mid-June to early July at IMG Academy in Florida.
The event was a developmental opportunity for 80 of the top prep players in the country. Grissom said the event allowed him to compete in a high-level environment, receive instruction from former major-league pitchers Alan Embree and Andy Pettitte and receive a glimpse into what playing in the minor leagues would be like.
“I just fell in love with it off hearing about it because it’s three weeks of the best players in the country,” Grissom said. “It was good to see where I stacked up against the top people and what I need to work on. That was the biggest learning experience I needed. I didn’t have as much success as I wanted but I needed that learning experience.”
Grissom begins high school baseball practice in mid-January. He attends Counterpane High in Fayetteville, Georgia. He stopped throwing in mid-October and will resume his this throwing program in late December or early January.
After the conclusion of his senior year of high school, Grissom will have two options. He could either start a pro career or attend Georgia Tech.
He committed to Georgia Tech over North Carolina and Vanderbilt. His familiarity with the university and proximity to home factored into his decision, he said. He also wants to major in computer science, if he attends Georgia Tech, due to his passion for technology.
Regardless of which option he selects after high school, Grissom is eager for the next step in his baseball career.
“I used to help people with their Facebook with how to login and stuff like that or fix their messages,” Grissom said. “I was an iPhone geek so I just taught them everything. My dad’s friends didn’t know how to work it so I’d help them with stuff like that.
“I don’t have a problem going to college. Whatever situation works best for me and my family, I will make that decision then.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.