LOUISVILLE -- In a small conference room in the lowest level of Louisville Slugger Field sat Reds prospect Amir Garrett; the plush office chair underneath him dwarfed by the frame of the 6-foot-5, 210-pound left-hander.Leaning back, hands behind his head, Garrett's posture carried a certain aloofness. Although soft-spoken, his words
LOUISVILLE -- In a small conference room in the lowest level of Louisville Slugger Field sat Reds prospect Amir Garrett; the plush office chair underneath him dwarfed by the frame of the 6-foot-5, 210-pound left-hander.
Leaning back, hands behind his head, Garrett's posture carried a certain aloofness. Although soft-spoken, his words paint the picture of a competitive and confident player.
"There's always room for improvement," Garrett said. "I think I'm, for the most part, pretty much ready [for the Majors] right now."
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After his 2016 campaign, Garrett has a lot to be confident about.
In his second full year since foregoing his basketball career to focus on baseball, Garrett made some of the biggest strides of any player in the organization. With a plus fastball and slider, Garrett blazed through his first season of Double-A with a 1.75 ERA in 12 starts.
Midway through the season, Garrett earned a call up to Triple-A Lousiville and posted a 3.46 ERA in 11 starts, finishing his season with a combined 2.55 ERA in 144 2/3 innings and earning the Reds' Pitcher Prospect of the Year Award by MLBPipeline.com.
"I think it's gone really, really well, better than I'd expect," Garrett said. "I ran into some troubles up here [in Louisville], just a little bit, not too much, but I've been able to make adjustments. I think I've been able to handle myself pretty well in this league for the short amount of time that I've been here so far, and I feel like every start I'm learning something new about myself."
While his Double-A dominance produced some eye-popping numbers -- it bumped him up to the No. 2 Reds prospect and No. 57 overall prospect on MLBPipeline's midseason prospect grade -- it was how he adjusted in Triple-A that gives the most promising signs for his future.
After cruising through his first five starts in Louisville with a 2.35 ERA, Garrett hit a speed bump with his command. Triple-A hitters figured out his stuff, and the back-foot sliders that baffled Double-A hitters stopped drawing swings. In his two starts as July turned to August, Garrett pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight earned runs and 10 walks.
Displeased with the results, Garrett worked with pitching coach Jeff Fassero on some small adjustments and responded with two consecutive seven-inning performances in which he allowed a combined two runs and two walks. Over his final five starts, Garrett posted a 2.84 ERA and allowed 10 walks. On Monday, MLBPipeline.com named him one of the organization's Prospects of the Year.
"He's a quick learner, he makes adjustments pretty fast," Louisville manager Delino DeShields said. "That's rare for a lot of young players. Not just pitchers, but position players as well. It's one thing to work on stuff in the batting cage and work on stuff on the side, but to be able to take it into the game at 7:05 is something different."
What's next for Garrett is a bit hazy.
The Reds' rotation, assuming good health, is likely to shake out next season with some combination of Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Brandon Finnegan and Dan Straily. That leaves just one rotation spot available for the likes of Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson. While Garrett, with just 11 starts of Triple-A experience, could still use some seasoning, he'll at least be in the conversation.
"It's [not] whether I think I'm ready for the next step, it's ultimately up to them," Garrett said. "But I think I'm ready."
"I'd have no problem with him starting in a big league ballgame," DeShields said.
Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.