The Cincinnati Reds currently have a trio of young guns atop their top ten prospect list. While Robert Stephenson has shown success already as big leaguer and Cody Reed is lighting up Louisville in Triple-A nearing a promotion to The Show himself, neither may be as exciting as Amir Garrett.
Garrett was the Reds 22nd-round draft pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. During his first two seasons, he pitched much like a 22nd-round pick at times. The past few seasons, however, have seen him pitch like a first-round gem.
The transformation began in 2014. After struggling with his promotion to the Dayton Dragons at the end of 2013 — a debut that saw him go a frightening 1-3 with a 6.88 ERA striking out 16 and walking 15 over eight starts — Garrett clicked a switch and hasn’t looked back. He went 7-8 in 2014, posting a career best 3.65 ERA while striking out 127 and walking 51.
Were there weaknesses? Sure; he walked better than three-per-nine and allowed way too many home runs — 11 to be exact — but Garrett showed at the age of 22 he was willing to learn and change.
That change was on full display in 2015, pitching for Daytona in the Florida State League. He went 9-7, lowered his ERA by 1.20 runs to a new career-best of 2.44. He struck out 133 and walked 55 batters en route to a season that filled his trophy case. He was an FSL all-star as well as the FSL Pitcher of the Year, earning a spot in the MLB Futures Game. His walk rates were still a bit high, but he cut his home runs allowed from 11 to four. Again, Garrett showed a feel for learning and adjusting.
Garrett is an imposing presence on the mound, standing at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, the kind of projectable frame that scouts love. Perhaps that’s why he was a good college basketball player at St. John’s. Garrett averaged 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in a swingman starter/reserve role in his two years for the Red Storm before giving up basketball completely after the 2012-2013 season to focus on baseball. It’s a true testament to Garrett’s focus and makeup how much his baseball game improved once he honed in on one sport.
He currently has a three-pitch arsenal with two of the pitches ready for prime time. His fastball is second to none, coming in hard anywhere from 91 to 96 miles-per-hour. He’s ditched other attempts at breaking balls and stuck with his slider. While still inconsistent, when he has control of it, it is a nasty out pitch. He is still learning his changeup, sometimes overthrowing it; however, with the improvements Garrett has shown over the past two seasons, there is little doubt that he can likely harness it this year.
The big lefty finds success out of the stretch with a high leg kick as well with a more compact, quick leg kick with runners on base. He comes right at home plate, plants his foot with toes aimed at the batter and unloads with a quick, overhand release.
For more on the red-hot Garrett — who picked up yet another win yesterday — some videos and projections, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the full article by clicking on the link below.