Air Force grad Griffin Jax pitching in Single-A with firm deadline to report for active duty

Griffin Jax

Griffin Jax has reached the doorstep of Major League Baseball.

The Air Force graduate was promoted earlier this week to Triple-A Rochester (New York) in the Minnesota Twins organization, he confirmed to The Gazette on Wednesday. The right-hander is scheduled to make his first start with the Red Wings on Friday.

Jax was already the first Falcons graduate to play above Single-A. Now he’s one call from the sport’s top level.

“It’s definitely surreal, but I feel like I’ll understand it more when I pitch,” he said. “A lot of these names up here have big-time major league experience, so that’s definitely cool to know you’ll face that kind of talent daily.”

Former Rockies Wilin Rosario and Brandon Barnes are among Jax’s new teammates in Triple-A.

Jax went 4-3 with a 2.69 in 1001/3 innings over 18 starts in an All-Star season for Double-A Pensacola. He struck out 72, walked 22 and allowed 91 hits. His ERA and walks and hits per inning each ranked in the league’s top five.

Minnesota could serve as launching pad for Air Force grads' pro sports careers

His career ERA sits at 3.12 after the Twins picked him in the third round of the 2016 draft after his junior year. He signed and then pitched in four games during his summer break. That draft came during a brief window when service academy athletes were allowed to play professional sports immediately after graduation. That policy then changed while Jax was sitting out his senior season at the academy, and he began serving on active duty after graduating. He pitched only 392/3 innings over his first two professional seasons.

Since then he has served under the World Class Athlete Program, allowing him to play baseball full time as his job in the military.

The Twins are 2½ games ahead of Cleveland in the American League Central as they seek what would be their second postseason appearance since 2010, the other being a loss in the AL wild card game. Because they are locked in a pennant race, the Twins might be more likely to bolster their pitching staff when rosters expand Sept. 1.

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