A year after winning the Cincinnati Reds Pitcher of the Year Award in 2015, left hander Amir Garrett picked up right where he left off. He began the season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and ran through the Southern League in April with a 1.46 ERA in four starts that spanned 24.2 innings. He would walk just four batters, not allow a home run and strike out 25 opposing batters. In each start he walked just one hitter and threw at least 6.0 innings.

May was a little bit tougher, but was still a very strong month. After a strong start on May 2nd against Birmingham Amir Garrett had his first real hiccup of a game on the 8th of May, and even that is stretching it. He tossed 6.0 shutout innings in the start, but he did walk five batters in the game. The next three starts saw better control and more domination as he allowed just four earned runs in 18.2 innings pitched (1.93 ERA) with six walks and 16 strikeouts. May was wrapped up with three runs in 6.0 innings, the most he had allowed all season to that point, to go with four walks and seven strikeouts. For the month he posted a 2.02 ERA, but did see his walk rate jump up, handing out 17 free passes in 35.2 innings. He did strike out 36 batters to counteract the increase in walks though. He also went a second consecutive month without allowing a home run.

June would see three more starts for the Double-A Blue Wahoos. In those 16.2 innings stretched over the three outings he would post a 1.62 ERA (three earned runs) with seven walks and 17 strikeouts. He would be promoted before his next start, finishing up with a 1.75 ERA for Pensacola in 13 games and 77.0 innings pitched. The first start in Triple-A was a bit of a struggle for Amir Garrett. He walked six batters and had just four strikeouts while allowing three runs, though they came on just one hit in 5.2 innings pitched against Buffalo. He would face the Bison the next time out, finishing up the month at home in Louisville where he performed much better. The lefty tossed 7.0 shutout frames with two walks and five strikeouts to close out the month. Hhe walked 15 batters with 26 strikeouts on the month as he battled control at times, but still posted a 1.84 ERA between his two stops.

July saw some good and some bad for the left handed starter. For the second time in three games he allowed three runs, opening the month against Indianapolis where he also allowed the first home run of the year. He wouldn’t make another start for two weeks, but that’s because he was selected for the MLB Futures Game in San Diego. In that game he threw 2.0 shutout innings with two walks. Amir Garrett returned from San Diego and took the mound against Columbus on the 18th and pitched very well, being charged with an unearned run in 6.0 innings with no walks and five strikeouts. That was followed up with two runs in 6.0 innings at home against Lehigh Valley before he ran into some struggles to end the month against Durham. On the road he allowed five runs in 4.2 innings with six walks and six strikeouts. He finished the month with his highest ERA of the season, 3.97, and he had nine walks with just 16 strikeouts in 22.2 innings (these don’t include his Futures Game results).

After a poor start to end July that carried forward into August. Garrett didn’t make it out of the 1st inning against Toledo, walking four batters in 0.2 innings and giving up three runs. The left hander rebounded (no pun intended) well, tossing 7.0 innings in each of his next two starts with just two total walks and 12 strikeouts, giving up just two runs. The control problems popped up again the next time out, walking five batters in 6.1 innings, but allowing just three earned runs. The final two starts of the year were solid, but unspectacular, resulting in five earned runs in 11.1 innings with three walks, 11 strikeouts and three home runs allowed.

That ended his season, surprisingly. The 24-year-old left hander was on the 40-man roster for the second straight year and despite time, and success at the upper minor league levels, he did not get called up by the organization in September. Their reasoning was very suspect, as they claimed he was at his workload limit. Garrett threw 144.2 innings in 2016, which was just 4.1 innings more than he threw the previous season and just 11.1 innings more than he had thrown two seasons ago. His innings threshold should have been significantly higher, and getting him a few innings on the big league mound to get his feet wet just made so much sense. What’s more likely is the organization used the workload as an excuse to not start his service time and save a little bit of cash by not having to pay him the Major League minimum for a few weeks down the stretch.

After a dominant April in which he posted a 25-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio, the rest of the season saw him walk 55 batters with 107 strikeouts, just under a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Consistency was an issue at times when it came to control for Amir Garrett. Despite that, however, opposing batters simply struggled to do much against him. Even with the control issues popping up at times after April, he posted a 2.78 ERA in those 120.0 innings he pitched and hitters managed a .581 OPS against him (though he did have a .240 BABIP against in this same time frame). His overall season numbers may get him the organizations Pitcher of the Year Award once again as he led the way with a 2.55 ERA among starters and struck out 132 hitters in 144.2 innings on the year.

Level IP H ERA HR BB K
Pen 77.0 51 1.75 0 28 78
Lou 67.2 48 3.46 6 31 54

For all 2017 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out one per weekday over the offseason).

Amir Garrett Scouting Report

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Fastball | The left hander usually works in the 91-94 MPH range and will touch 95-96 every so often during most starts.

Slider | The pitch works in the low 80’s and features good sweeping and biting action. The sweeping action is more due to his low 3/4 arm slot and lets the pitch travel across the zone, but it makes the pitch more effective. It’s an above-average offering more often than not, but some will be more average.

Change Up | The pitch used to be borderline unusable for Garrett. He had no confidence in it and he slowed down his arm speed to throw the pitch rather significantly. It’s definitely improved in the last two years. The arm action is still slowed down, though not nearly as much. He’s also got more confidence in throwing the pitch than he’s ever shown in the past. It’s still a below-average offering because of the arm speed, but it’s taken big steps forward and is a usable pitch at this point in his career.

The improvements that Amir Garrett has made since fully taking his talents to the baseball field have been impressive. He’s got an above-average fastball and slider, and his change up, while still needing work, has come quite a long way. He still struggles at times to find the strikezone and will need to improve that consistency and the change up if he’s going to remain a starting pitcher in the long run, but all of the pieces are there for him to do so. If he eventually has to move to the bullpen, his fastball and slider should play up quite well and he would project to pitch near the end of the bullpen.

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11 Responses

  1. MK

    To tell you the character of this young man, as many know I suffered a stroke October 2015. After Amir heard that he sent me a message of support and has continued to do so over the year. Just an old guy he had interaction with in Dayton and took the time to be just a good guy. He will always be at the top of my list. Might say Sal Romano has done the same.

  2. bellhead

    Doug,

    For me this is what I think Amirs needs to improve on going forward.

    It appears the major challenge is to refine his Slider into a pitch he can execute at any time in the count.

    The other major challenge is to get his change up to be an average pitch.

  3. Brad

    What is Garrett’s option situation? 2017 will be his 3rd year on 40-man or 2nd?

    Will he need to be on 25-man roster for 2018 season?

    • Doug Gray

      The 2017 season, assuming he’s sent down, will be his 3rd option year and he does not qualify for a 4th option, so he will have to be on the 25-man roster for 2018 and moving forward. Which is why I was shocked he wasn’t called up in September for a few innings. He’s used two options and hasn’t gotten the call, despite in 2016 having plenty of success in the upper minor leagues.

  4. Brad

    I saw RedsFest players and minor league attendees were announced. Jackson Stephens is on the list. I have to imagine that means he will be protected.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s certainly possible, but Redsfest is before the Rule 5 draft. So, it could just mean he’s getting an award. It’s going to be interesting to see how all of these protections, and non-protections play out.

  5. Troy

    The scouting report sounds very similar to that of Cody Reed. Which one do you think has the higher upside and why?

    • Doug Gray

      I’d give Garrett the slightest edge on upside. His athleticism gives him more to work with, but Reed’s more advanced today.

      • MK

        Doug don’t know if you knew this but one of Amir’s relatives, I think I remember it as an uncle, is former NBA star and Cal State Northridge Basketball Coach, Reggie Theus. Northridge is where Amir transferred to and attended a year, when he left St. John’s.

  6. James Walker

    Just hearing and reading Garrett quotes, he seems to have a very sharp competitive edge about him. He makes no bones and offers no excuses for striving to be the best at what he does, period. This attitude seems to come out of his experience playing high level NCAA D1 basketball. I’d guess he is going to a guy wants and expects to be given the ball in tough situations. Hopefully his physical skills will also measure up.

    • Michael

      James I’m sure his basketball days help but at no time at St John’s was Amir the man demanding the ball in tough situations. He was a solid secondary piece.