The New Britain Bees announced the signing of the first player in the team’s history—former Long Island Ducks star first baseman Jon Griffin. The Bees acquired Griffin for pitcher Dan Blewett, who made the Liberty Division All-Star team as a member of the Camden Riversharks. For the season, the 6-0, 185-lb. right-hander appeared in a career-high 50 games and posted a career-best 1.80 ERA. In 50 innings, he struck out 59 batters, walked 12 and picked up one save.
New Britain, a long-time hotbed for minor league baseball, became an alluring option for the Riversharks, wduring this past offseason after the AA Rock Cats, who played in New Britain for over 20 years, announced they would be moving to a new stadium in Hartford this season and be known as the Yard Goats. That is still the plan, although there have been countless construction delays on the new stadium. After playing their first month on the road—a 34-game road trip—the Yard Goats are currently slated to play their home opener on May 12 against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Stay tuned. The Riversharks’ stadium lease at Campbell’s Stadium in Camden expired at the end of last season making the team, for all practical purposes, a “free agent.” New Britain quickly swooped in and locked up the team.
The Bees’ principal owner, Frank Boulton, is the founder of the Atlantic League. He is currently a member of the league’s Board of Directors, is the founder and CEO of the Ducks, and the principal owner of the Bridgeport Bluefish. You heard that right. Boulton, who spent 25 years as a Wall Street executive for several firms, including Smith Barney and Yamaichi America, is the principal owner and/or CEO of three teams in the immediate area—New Britain, Bridgeport and Long Island—that will be playing in the same division and will be arch-rivals for the foreseeable future. Might this constitute a conflict of interest? Only time will tell.
Originally drafted in the 21st round by the Diamondbacks out of the University of Central Florida, Griffin is a career .264 hitter with 84 home runs, 333 RBI and a .990 fielding percentage in five professional seasons. The 6-6 26-year-old slugger hit a team-leading 13 home runs and earned Atlantic League All-Star recognition last season with the Ducks. The Bradenton, Fla. native turned in a sterling .994 fielding percentage at first base.
In 2014, Griffin was a Southern League All-Star at the Double-A level as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. That season, he clubbed 15 home runs despite playing in a notorious pitchers’ park in Mobile, Alabama. Additionally, Griffin is known for setting a league record, hitting home runs in five (5) consecutive at bats for the BayBears.
“Jon is an accomplished power hitter and fielder,” said Bees manager Stan Cliburn. “He is a great first step in putting together a strong team for 2016. Fans in Central Connecticut are going to enjoy watching him and we’re excited to have him.”
The Bees home opener will be on April 21 at New Britain Stadium. For further information or to become a season ticket holder, email email@example.com, call 860-826-BEES (2337), or visit NBBees.com.