- Full name Ryan Francis Garko
- Born 01/02/1981 in Pittsburgh, PA
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Stanford
- Debut 09/18/2005
Drafted in the 3rd round (78th overall) by the Cleveland Guardians in 2003 (signed for $270,000).
View Draft ReportC Ryan Garko has been a solid college hitter for four years at Stanford and enjoyed his best season as a senior, hitting .380 with team-leading home run and RBI totals. He's always hit for average and power, but defense has been an issue and the main reason he's never been drafted. Garko lost 15 pounds before this year, however, and it has resulted in better quickness and more energy. He's thrown out more runners could be an eighth- to 10th-round pick.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Garko's bat never has been in question. But after he went undrafted following his junior year at Stanford, Garko dropped 15 pounds to address concerns over his lack of mobility behind the plate. His stock soared and he earned All-America honors as a senior, and he hit his way to the big leagues little more than two years after turning pro. Garko is short to the ball with an efficient stroke, allowing him to adjust to pitches in any location. He uses the whole field and shows above-average power. His makeup and leadership skills are among the best in the system. The only thing holding Garko back is his defensive deficiencies. The Indians committed to getting him as much work as possible behind the plate in 2005 but have since wavered, realizing backup Josh Bard is a much better defender than Garko ever will be. Though his actions at first base have gotten better, he's still mechanical at times and adequate at best. He's a liability on the basepaths. Garko worked exclusively at first base in the Arizona Fall League. He could push for incumbent Ben Broussard's first-base job in 2006 if he can prove himself serviceable defensively.
Undrafted following his junior season at Stanford because of skepticism about his defensive ability, Garko turned in an All-America .402-18- 92 performance as a senior. In his first full season as a pro, he was Cleveland's 2004 minor league player of the year. Garko climbed three levels and raked at every stop in 2004, hitting to all fields and showing above-average power. He's short to the ball with an efficient swing, helping him adjust to any type of pitch and location. His strong leadership skills are an asset behind the plate. While he is underrated defensively behind the plate, some scouts still question whether he can be an everyday catcher. He worked extensively with roving instructors Chris Bando and Ted Kubiak to improve on defense, both behind the plate and at first. He's a well below-average runner. The Indians believe Garko is ready to be a role player in the big leagues right now. However, he likely will start 2005 in Triple-A as he tries to find a full-time position.
Minor League Top Prospects
The only thing holding Garko in the minors is his lack of a position. While the Indians seemed committed to getting him as much work as possible behind the plate to start the season, they since have wavered because Victor Martinez looks like a perennial all-star and big league backup Josh Bard is a much better defender than Garko ever will be. Garko's value is in his bat. He's short to the ball with an efficient swing, allowing him to adjust to any pitch in any location. He uses the whole field and showed above-average power. His best big league role might be as a reserve first base/catcher who offers a potent bat off the bench. He threw out just 16 percent of IL basestealers and he looks mechanical as a first baseman. "There's nothing not to like about that bat," Durham manager Bill Evers said. "I just wonder where you play him. You don't just break into the big leagues and be a DH."
Compared by many to 2003 league MVP Chris Shelton because he lacks a true position, all Garko did was mash at three different stops this season. And like Shelton, the first pick in the Rule 5 draft last year, both players split time between first base and catcher during their respective stints in the CL. "Those guys are a lot alike in a lot of ways," said an NL scout. "For me, Garko is the better defender at both positions. He has shown more power also, but they both have swings without holes in them." Before he earned a promotion to Double-A Akron (and eventually Triple-A Buffalo), Garko showed good raw power and ability to make consistent, hard contact. Defensively, he's below average as a catcher; he stabs at the ball as a receiver, and his poor footwork and slow glove-to-hand transfer negate his average arm strength.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Cleveland Guardians in 2006