Entering the 2017 season, Amir Garrett was arguably the Cincinnati Reds top pitching prospect. He had a solid spring training with the big league club, throwing 21.1 innings with a 4.22 ERA, six walks and 14 strikeouts and earned a spot in the rotation.
Amir Garrett’s first three big league starts were outstanding. He threw 19.2 innings with three walks and 21 strikeouts. That came with a 1.83 ERA, allowing just four earned runs in that span. Things started to go south after that. Over the next three starts he walked 11 batters with just seven strikeouts in 16.1 innings and allowed 13 earned runs – though nine of those runs did come in his April 24th start.
The Reds sent the lefty back to Triple-A after his May 6th start, where he made one start. It went as well as possible as Garrett struck out all six batters he faced. He was back in the Majors for the next time through the rotation, but over the next month things continued to go south in the Majors. In six starts he posted a 12.49 ERA in 22.1 innings with 15 walks, 21 strikeouts and he allowed 13 home runs.
Amir Garrett would then spend the next nine weeks in Triple-A. Things went a little better, but he still had some struggles. In 65.2 innings he had an ERA of 5.89. His peripherals were solid, walking just 24 batters, allowing seven homers and he struck out 55. He returned to Cincinnati in September and made four more appearances to close out his season. Walks were once again a problem, walking 11 batters with 14 strikeouts in 12.1 innings.
Even when he was pitching well in the very beginning of the season, his velocity was down from where it had been in the past. At the time we were unaware the Amir Garrett was hiding a hip injury. That information came out later, and it seemed to explain some things. During the 2017 season, Garrett averaged just 92.2 MPH on his fastball. As a starter it was 91.9 MPH. In the past he’s been 90-95, but touched higher, and some days it was more 92-95. That wasn’t often the case in 2017.
Yesterday Amir Garrett made his spring training debut for 2018. He was the final pitcher of the game for the Reds against the White Sox. He dominated the 7th and 8th innings, throwing 2.0 perfect innings with four strikeouts. The numbers are great to see, but it was what those in attendance were saying that sticks out even more.
Former Major League scout and now prospect writer Bernie Pleskoff had this to say:
I was really impressed with what I saw today from the #Reds Amir Garrett. That’s the best arm action I’ve seen from him in a while. i hope maybe he has figured it out. Repeated solid delivery with some giddyup on the ball. Very good inning. I see hope there.
— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) February 25, 2018
It was a few hours later, but then Bill Mitchell (Baseball America contributor, Photographer extraordinaire) shared this:
Impressive outing today by #Reds LHP Amir Garrett. 2 perfect innings, 4 Ks, FB 95-97.
— Bill Mitchell (@billazbbphotog) February 26, 2018
Read that again. 95 to 97 MPH on the fastball. Yes, it was only a handful of batters that he faced. And yes, he didn’t have to “save” something because he knew he wasn’t going to throw 100 pitches. But, it’s also February. Most pitchers don’t hit their peak velocity until June.
After the season Amir Garrett acknowledged that his hip was injured and had been bothering him for a majority of the season. He had both PRP and stem-cell injections in his hip in order to recover from the injury. While we will have to see if the hip issue is what led to the control problems in 2017, it seems that if nothing else, a healthy hip has led to a much harder throwing version of Amir Garrett early on in 2018. If the hip was somewhat responsible for the control problems, then it could be a very big rebound for the left hander.