Garrett Stands Tall Among Reds’ Farmhands

BEST PLAYER: Lefthander Amir Garrett’s talent has never been in question. That’s because 22nd-round picks don’t get $1 million without obvious talent.

But the Reds gave the 6-foot-6 Garrett, a Henderson, Nev., high school product, that bonus in 2011 hoping that once he decided to give up basketball, that his athleticism would pay off. And it’s beginning to do just that.

Even after recording a 2.44 ERA at high Class A Daytona in 2015, Garrett has been better this season. He dominated at Double-A Pensacola, going 5-3, 1.75 with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 13 appearances before being promoted to Triple-A Louisville.

Garrett has improved in just about every statistical category this season—giving up fewer hits and home runs (zero this year), walking fewer batters and striking out more.

In a Reds system stocked with arms, Garrett is beginning to separate himself.

“His athleticism, his intelligence, his ability to make adjustments—he’s really just put it all together and continues to improve,” player development director Jeff Graupe said. “The kid’s ready for the next challenge.”

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Drafted as a 17-year-old catcher in the 12th round of the 2013 draft, Shed Long impressed at low Class A Dayton in 2015, hitting .283/.368/.474 in 42 games—as a second baseman.

The Reds moved the Jacksonville, Ala., high school product out from behind the plate in 2015. Though he’s playing at Dayton again this year, Long is still just 20 and learning to play not just second base, but also third.

Meanwhile, the lefthanded-hitting Long has continued to swing the bat. He hit .266/.356/.468 through 71 games, with nine home runs and 39 RBIs. He also hit 21 doubles and a triple, which is impressive considering his 5-foot-8, 180-pound frame.

“Shed moved from catcher to second base to maximize his offensive reps and utilize his athleticism,” Graupe said. “He shows the ability to drive the ball to all fields and continually grinds out quality at-bats.”

Long also led the Dragons with 34 walks.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino began the season late after sustaining a thigh injury playing for Nicaragua in the World Baseball Classic, and it’s been a struggle ever since.

Blandino, a first-round pick from Stanford in 2014, hit just .196/.301/.317 with five home runs through 58 games. On the plus side, he added third base to his middle-infield portfolio.

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