This was the year of the great pitching-prospect shuffle. It was, frankly, the best part of watching forty or so Louisville Bats games. Among the big three — Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett — the one who made the biggest impression on me was the one who didn’t make it to the majors. I am referring, of course, to Amir Garrett.

The Basics

Garrett has three pitches, fastball, slider, and change up. He doesn’t throw as hard as he looks like he should (he looks like he should throw as hard as Chapman). In my experience, he sat around 93. I’ve seen reports of him hitting 97, but that must be rare because I didn’t see it in Louisville (as far as I can remember). The change up is the key and the pitch he needs to master to reach his potential. His numbers in AA last year were out of this world (9.12 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 1.75 ERA, 2.50 FIP) and in AAA they were middling (7.18 K/9, 4.12 BB/9, 3.46 ERA, 4.14 FIP).

Organizational Impressions

During the minor league season, I talked to both Louisville manager Delino DeShields and the Bats’ then-pitching coach Ted Power about Garrett. Both, it is fair to say, were enthusiastic. By which I mean, their eyes lit up a little bit. Garrett has the reputation of having an excellent attitude and of being extremely coachable (more on this in a minute). Further, everyone understands that Garrett is an athlete. His time playing basketball — Garrett played Division 1 college hoops at St. John’s — shows. He’s in fantastic shape and I was told he bounces back quickly.

What I Saw

The stuff about his changeup was right. When it was working (and it worked quite a bit in Louisville, Garrett was something to watch. He seemed — to my untrained eye — to usually be quite good at duplicating his delivery and I saw him make plenty of hitters (yes minor league hitters) look silly when the 92 MPH fastball they were expecting turned out to be a 75 MPH change up.

In terms of his AAA numbers, especially where his control is concerned, I’d advise optimism. Over the course of the season, Garrett walked a total of 3.67 batters per nine innings. However, in 17 of his 25 games he walked two batters or fewer. He tends to have the occasional Arroyo-esque blow out, but if you take away the five starts where he had the worst command (24.1 IP and 26 BB) and his BB/9 drops to 2.42.

This isn’t to say we should ignore those starts, but we should note that they were spread far apart and as far as I was told, his reaction was to immediately seek coaching to fix whatever mechanical issues had gotten off track. For evidence of his ability to rebound, I submit that after his worst start of the year (0.2 IP, 4BB, 1 HBP, 0 K) he rebounded by his next start to throw 7.0 innings, 0 BB, and 7 Ks. That’s not a bad way to bounce back.


Is Amir Garrett a completely finished and polished product? No, probably not yet. He still has hiccups. However, he is likely ready to get major league hitters out as long as we can stomach the occasional bad-rroyo blow up. And those will probably go away over time. Garrett has everything you want. His arm doesn’t have a ton of mileage, he’s developed quickly since dedicating himself full time to baseball, he has the stuff, and – by all accounts – he has the make up. He’s going to be a good pitcher. Actually, he’s probably already one.

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at

Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. I hope you are right. He’s one I’m excited about seeing in Cincinnati.

  2. I didn’t see any of his starts? Were any of the blowouts during games when he was trying to work something out? There’s a tendency for an org to disregard the scoreboard in situations like that. Basically treating a game like a bullpen session?

    • I didn’t see nearly all of his starts, but among those I saw, he basically had something go mechanically out of whack and struggled with his control as a result. He’s a big, lanky guy, and those guys tend to take a while to get completely mechanically consistent. That was also the impression I got from people in the organization.

      • Good info. I just brought that up, because a few seasons ago I was with a Rockies and a Braves scout at a game where Mark Appel was starting. He cruised through 3 toying with the other Low A lineup…then the Astros had him start working on his slider and he came unhinged.

        Are we talking Tajuan Walker type “working it out” type stuff? I’ll take that.

      • Great article. He seems to have that rare pop in his fastball and it explodes at the end. Where do you realistically think his off speed pitches are right now? 1 to 10. Im also curious about Garrett’s minor league options. With the couple years he spent playing basketball is he squeezed on minor league time left or could he spend the whole year in triple A?

      • I’ve been watching Garrett on video. Not a huge fan of his motion. Reminds me of a left handed Rick Sutcliffe. His arm is late to the plate…he coils like Sutcliffe. His big thing will be staying on top of the slider….he gets on the side and spins it sometimes. He also needs to work on maintaining arm speed with off speed pitches. I only saw one video, so this is just my quick analysis.

        Certainly guys have had odd these forms and succeeded. If he puts it together and explodes to the plate…you can see him having some David Price in him.

        • You are completely right about arm speed. It’s not always where it should be with the change up. When it is, he’s great. When it isn’t, he’s less-than-great. It’s probably the one piece that isn’t there yet, but I also think it’s not a good reason to keep him down. He knows it’s an issue and he’s working on it actively. It’ll come with time and, in the meantime, there is no way he isn’t one of the 5 best starters in the the org. right now.

        • I saw one video of Garrett and Im trying to figure out how old that footage was.

          Ill say that if he hasnt gotten the change worked out, then he needs to scrap it in the bigs and relieve. There’s not a lot of chance he’ll be successfull as a starter with a decent fastball and an ok slider.

          To me his acceleration in the system is dependant on how they wish to use him.

          Myself…Im perfectly fine if a few guys dont get that 3rd pitch rolling…because I can list some lights out relievers of that same theme….Wade Davis…Luke Hochevar. Even Andrew Miller.

          To me having a meh pitch is deadly in the major leagues….it detracts from the other pitches.

  3. I miss Arroyo………I’d love to hear a radio booth combo of the Cowboy and Bronson. That would be more entertaining than some old man yelling at Joey Votto to get off his lawn.

    Garrett is in a good spot. He’s going to get the first couple months to hone his craft in Louisville while the service clock expires and one of Finnegan/Straily/Stephenson/Reed plays themselves out of a starting job. He’ll be the next man up and get a nice long look.

    • I seriously doubt Reed will get a starting job in the Spring, unless a whole lot of other things/people go wrong.
      I think Amir Garrett has more of a chance to stick with the big club, but likely it will be a June call-up. He is a guy with great physical tools and a great attitude. A little older and more mature personally than Reed or Stephenson.
      Velocity with a Left hander is not as important as command of a change-up, and control. Being able to locate, throw strikes and have a good change up.
      Right hand hitters are dying to swing at lefties, and mixing in the change-up with the speedball is usually the key to any lefty’s success.

  4. Love this article. I know measurables matter, and velocity correlates strongly to success, and stats don’t lie, etc etc, but hearing this fella has the reputation as a “worker” and a “tinkerer” has me very excited. Roger Clemens didn’t break into the league throwing that splitter, and Johan Santana had to master that circle change AFTER getting to the bigs. It’s the unrelenting pursuit of improvement that creates great pitchers from the relatively ubiquitous group of 90+ MPH throwers (as well as a huge stroke of health-related luck).

  5. I think he might be the best of all of our current pitching prospects. I haven’t given up on Stephenson, but it feels with him it’s time to poop or get off the pot. Reed should be ok with his stuff, but I feel Garrett is going to be the real deal.

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About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at


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