- Full name Amir Jamal Garrett
- Born 05/03/1992 in Victorville, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 239 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- School St. John's (NY)
- Debut 04/07/2017
Drafted in the 22nd round (685th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2011 (signed for $1,000,000).
View Draft ReportGarrett has quickly gone from being unknown to being a legitimate prospect in two sports. He didn't start playing organized basketball until his freshman year but jumped onto the varsity from day one. He has grown into a 6-foot-6 wing player with explosive leaping ability and has committed to St. John's. He is also interested in playing baseball. While playing on a travel basketball team last summer, Garrett made time to pitch in the Tournament of Stars, flashing upper 80s velocity from the windup, dipping 8-10 mph from the stretch. His athleticism has allowed him to make great strides this spring even though he hasn't played for a team. He has a throwing program that incorporates yoga, long-toss and resistance training and started throwing bullpens and stretching his arm out. When basketball season ended, he ramped up his baseball workouts and has been throwing for scouts. In early May, he threw for a group of scouts in Las Vegas and sat 90-94 mph while touching 96. He also flashed a changeup with life in the lower 80s and has shown flashes of a usable curveball. Everything is, understandably, a work in progress for Garrett but his athleticism from the left side is impossible to ignore.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Garrett's dream of becoming an NBA player met reality at St. John's where he was solid but never spectacular in two seasons. Because the Reds signed him for $1 million as a 22nd-round pick in 2011 out of high school, however, Garrett always had a fallback option. He has pursued baseball exclusively since 2014, and in that time the 6-foot-5 southpaw reshaped his body by gaining weight and advanced to Triple-A Louisville. Given his two-sport background, Garrett is one of the most athletic pitchers in the minors. That has allowed him to develop at a rapid rate and catch up with more experienced pitchers. At his best Garrett's plus 90-95 mph fastball and above-average slider keep hitters uncomfortable. His slider is not as consistent as it needs to be, which explains why he had trouble against more advanced hitters in Triple-A. His changeup can be an average pitch when he sells it and locates it, but he has below-average feel for the pitch and below-average command overall. Garrett can be a mid-rotation starter with improved command. Otherwise he could have a lengthy career as a lefthanded reliever relying on his fastball and slider. He heads back to Triple-A in 2017 and is a viable big league callup option at any time.
A top high school basketball recruit who toyed with baseball, Garrett made a couple of showcase appearances and intrigued scouts with his 95 mph velocity and extreme athleticism. Under the old draft rules, the Reds were able to spend $1 million in 2011 to convince Garrett to pitch when he wasn't playing basketball. That gamble paid off when the 6-foot-5 southpaw gave up basketball in 2014. He pitched in the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati and dominated in the high Class A Florida State League playoffs. Using a modified workout program, Garrett has added 20 pounds of good weight since giving up basketball. Everything for Garrett begins with a plus fastball. It's what got him drafted and it's still his best pitch. He can dominate with a 94-96 mph heater that he locates to both sides of the plate. His slider also flashes plus, but its quality varies significantly from start to start. Garrett's changeup is clearly his third-best option, but it flashes average as well. He always has had fringy control and command, but his stuff is good enough to succeed if he can develop even average control. He shuts down running games with quick times (1.1 seconds) to the plate. Garrett will head to Double-A Pensacola in 2016. He's one of the Reds' older pitching prospects, but he's also one of the fastest developing. Garrett has a chance to develop into a mid-rotation starter with a fallback option of power lefthanded reliever.
When the Reds signed Garrett for $1 million as a 22nd-round pick in 2011 they hoped that one day he would give up his basketball career to focus on baseball. After playing hoops for two seasons at St. John's and spending one year sitting out as a transfer at Cal State Northridge, Garrett attended spring training for the first time in 2014, decided to focus on baseball and went 5-4, 2.86 at low Class A Dayton during the second half. No Reds pitcher improved more in 2014. Garrett showed erratic control early, but in the second half he consistently showed a plus fastball (92-95 mph) that he can throw to both sides of the plate but is pretty straight. He throws a slurvy slider that is a bigger breaker than ideal but does have some power. Some scouts think it's too much of a chase pitch, but most see it as an average offering with a chance to end up as plus. Garrett's changeup is erratic, but at its best it's a fringe-average offering that is a little firm. His control has improved dramatically, but his command still has a way to go. With extremely long legs and arms, the 6-foot-5 lefty has to work to repeat his delivery, and he's slow to the plate. Given that he'll be 23 in 2015, Garrett could end up as a power reliever with a plus fastball and potentially plus slider. But he could grow to be a mid-rotation starter if he continues making strides.
The scouting report on Garrett hasn't changed much since he signed for $1 million out of high school in 2011. He's a long-limbed lefty with a great arm who needs a lot of innings. Garrett didn't even play baseball as a senior, as he focused primarily on his basketball career, which has taken him to Cal State Northridge after two years at St. John's. His hoops career has limited his time on the mound to short bursts, which is evident in Garrett's inconsistent control. He'll paint the corner on one pitch, then bounce his next two fastballs. His velocity also wavers as he struggles to repeat his delivery. His fastball ranges from 89-95 mph and plays as plus when he locates it. His breaking ball has morphed from a slider into a curveball. It can be an average pitch when he throws it for strikes, but he doesn't control it well. Garrett's changeup has promise as he throws it with good arm speed, but he has no feel for locating it yet. His chance to advance depends on him giving up his basketball career, but until he does that, he'll be on the slow track through Class A.
Cincinnati has been willing to get creative to bring in premium talent, from signing Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman to a $30 million contract to signing Garrett for $1 million even though Garrett hadn't played high school baseball as a senior, focusing instead on basketball. Teams including the Reds saw intriguing talent when Garrett lit up radar guns in predraft workouts in 2011, and they signed him while still allowing him to play basketball at St. John's, where he was starting as a sophomore. Understandably, Garrett showed how raw he was in his pro debut. But he also showed himself to be a quick learner, as his breaking ball and changeup improved dramatically. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph, touching 96, and it's easily his best pitch for now. He flashed a plus slider and average changeup by late in the season. Garrett showed significant improvement as the season went on and impressed in his brief stay during instructional league. The Reds hope that at some point he'll focus on baseball, but with the opportunity to develop a lefthander with plus stuff they're willing to share him for now. Garrett should be slated for a return to Billings in 2013 once he finishes his sophomore basketball season.
The Reds prefer to stick close to MLB's slot recommendations in the first round, but they're not afraid to get creative later in the draft to add high-ceiling talents. Garrett is their latest high-risk, high-reward signing. Though he has little track record in baseball and will play basketball at St. John's, Cincinnati drafted him in the 22nd round last June and gave him a $1 million bonus. To protect themselves, the Reds took advantage of MLB provisions for two-sport athletes and spread the bonus over five years. Garrett appeared briefly on the high school showcase circuit in 2010 but didn't have a senior season because Henderson (Nev.) International School doesn't field a baseball team. He built up arm strength via a long-toss program and threw in workouts for scouts, creating buzz in May when he displayed a consistent 90-94 mph fastball. Garrett's delivery is extremely raw, which means he can follow a 95-mph fastball with an 86-mph heater. His secondary pitches are more an idea than anything he can use consistently, though he shows flashes of promise with his breaking ball. Cincinnati will have to wait until the end of his school year at St. John's before he returns to baseball next summer, but they're willing to be patient with a tall, athletic lefthander with a strong arm.
Minor League Top Prospects
Garrett, a former college basketball player, reached Louisville in June after a strong start to the season at Double-A Pensacola. He threw two hitless innings in the Futures Game and is close to becoming the latest young starter to reach the majors with the Reds. Listed at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Garrett has a long, athletic frame. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s, mixing it effectively with an above-average slider. His changeup made strides this year, but still lags behind his other offerings. Garrett's command improved after he focused on baseball full time, but his walk rate crept up to 4.1 per nine innings at Louisville. The Reds have done a good job of developing his raw talent, and with some further refinement of his command, he could be a solid starter.
Garrett pursued basketball at St. John's even after he signed with the Reds for $1 million out of the 2011 draft. The 6-foot-5 southpaw decided to drop hoops in 2014, and he tackled the upper levels of the minors for the first time in 2016. Garrett cruised through the SL, going 5-3, 1.75 and not allowing a home run in 13 appearances before a June 22 promotion to Triple-A Louisville. Garrett pitches in the low 90s and can reach 95 mph at times. He does a good job using his height to his advantage to drive the ball down in the hitting zone to generate groundballs and limit hard contact in the air. He leans on a sweeping slider as his out pitch, but his breaking ball fluctuates from average to plus, so it's not a dependable weapon. He doesn't have great feel for his changeup, using it mostly to keep righthanders from locking in on his fastball. Evaluators aren't wowed by the consistency of Garrett's secondary stuff, with some seeing him as a possible reliever based on his arm strength. He has the athleticism to repeat his delivery and hold baserunners, which will keep him alive as a possible No. 3 or 4 starter if he can refine his secondary stuff.
Statistically, Garrett had the best starter season in the FSL, finishing second in ERA (2.44) and strikeouts (133) and third in opponent average (.230). He led the field with 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. While Garrett is old for the league thanks to his two-sport background, he has put college basketball in his rear-view and has become an elite pitching prospect. Garrett has ideal pitcher's size and athleticism to go with arm strength and looseness. Both his fastball, which can sit 94-96 mph for stretches, and power breaking ball (alternately called a curve and slider), elicit swings and misses, with his breaking ball making strides this season and earning plus grades from two scouts. Garrett has a high-octane delivery and never will have plus command, but he needs to harness his delivery a bit more. His changeup remains a solid third pitch as a fringe-average offering. He has improved his ability to hold runners and quickening his times to home plate. "He was outstanding in the playoffs," Daytona hitting coach Kevin Mahar said of Garrett's start versus Clearwater in which he struck out 12 in seven one-hit innings. "His second pitch was 96 (mph) up and in and that was it--they didn't have a chance."
Few players took a bigger step forward than Garrett did in 2014. The former St. John's basketball player decided to focus exclusively on baseball this year and attended his first spring training. The extra work paid off, as the 6-foot-5 lefty made steady progress throughout the season at Dayton. "He got better each time I saw him," a pro scout said. Garrett's 91-95 mph fastball straightened out the harder he threw it, but it became a much more effective pitch because he started to be able to locate it to both sides of the plate. His 78-80 mph slider has excellent shape and some bite, but it's more of a chase pitch at this point than something he can throw for strikes. His changeup is much further away because it's too firm, though he does maintain arm speed on the pitch.
Top 100 Rankings
Background: Garrett's dream of becoming an NBA player met reality at St. John's where he averaged 6.2 points per game in two seasons. Because the Reds signed him for $1 million as a 22nd-round pick in 2011, however, Garrett always had a fallback option. He has pursued baseball exclusively since 2014, and in that time the 6-foot-5 southpaw has reshaped his body by gaining weight and has advanced to Triple-A Louisville. Scouting Report: Given his two-sport background, Garrett is one of the most athletic pitchers in the minors. That has allowed him to develop at a rapid rate and catch up with more experienced pitchers. At their best, Garrett's plus 90-95 mph fastball and above-average slider keep hitters uncomfortable. His slider is not as consistent as it needs to be, which explains why he had more trouble against more advanced hitters in Triple-A. Garrett's changeup can be an average pitch when he sells it and locates it, but he has below-average feel for the pitch and below-average command overall.
The Future: Garrett can be a mid-rotation starter with improved command. Otherwise he could have a lengthy career as a lefthanded reliever relying on his fastball and slider. He heads back to Triple-A in 2017 and is a viable big league callup option at any time.