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2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #42 Perci Garner

The 2017 countdown continues with a reliever who not only was a great story of prospect perseverance and a kid living out his dream to make the big leagues with his hometown team last season - but someone who has legitimately put himself into a position to have a strong major league career in the pen...

42. Perci Garner – Right-handed Pitcher

Born: 12/23/1988 – Height: 6’3” – Weight: 255 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right

Facts & Info: Garner was originally selected by the Phillies in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft out of Ball State University (OH) and signed for $470,000. He was released by the Phillies during spring training in 2015 and the Indians signed him to a minor league deal shortly after that. He actually went to Ball State on a football scholarship and was a two-sport athlete who also played baseball, but after two years of no playing time and his emergence as a top MLB draft prospect going into his junior year, he decided to move on from football and focus on baseball.

Stuff: Garner is a very strong, physical pitcher with a four pitch mix who brings a lot of power and movement from the right side. He features a plus two-seam fastball that sits at 91-95 MPH and flashes plus-plus at 97 MPH, and shows some solid average command of it. It is his bread and butter offering because it is such a heavy ball with very good late movement and arm side run, and has some very good sink to the bottom of the zone which leads to a lot of groundballs and weak contact. Where he really has made some strides is with his confidence in his sinker as he is now much more aggressive with it which has allowed him to attack the strike zone better and throw more strikes. At times when he uses his two-seamer inside on lefties it can leak back out onto the plate a little bit which can give him some trouble, so the Indians had him begin incorporating a four-seamer into his mix to keep it on the opposite-arm side and away from righties as well. He mixes in a curveball, slider and changeup, though neither is a standout offering and lack consistency. His curveball has some power to it and flashes plus with the sharp break it gets and shows an ability to get some swing and miss. His changeup has a chance to be average as it shows some good separation from his fastball with some late fade, and his slider is a fringy offering that flashes some good movement.

Delivery & Intangibles: Garner has a solid delivery with some good power and athleticism to it with an over-the-top slot he repeats well. He shows a good feel for pitching and can really power the ball through the zone. He is someone who has the strength and durability to pitch multiple innings in relief and handle a high workload. Not only is he a great athlete as a former high school and college quarterback, but he has an amazing personality that teammates and coaches gravitate to because of how much he smiles, likes to have fun but also knows how to be a professional. As a former quarterback running a team and being the guy in the huddle, he has those leadership traits teams like and knows how to remain calm, keep poised and not be in awe at any situation he faces. He just has a quiet confidence about him where he goes about his business and has a strong makeup and work ethic with a desire to get better.

Focus: The move to a bullpen role was key for Garner as the Indians felt his stuff would play up there. The Indians really took some steps to get him away from pitching like he was starting by worrying about being too fine and mixing in all of his pitches, something the Indians felt took away from his aggressiveness and limited hit strike throwing a little bit. Instead, they got him to just simplify things and let loose with his fastball and to pitch off the two-seamer. By getting him more aggressive with his fastball on the plate it resulted in more efficient outings, made a huge improvement with his strike throwing ability and made his other pitches better. The Indians also worked on his mental approach to get him to trust in his abilities more, stick to the process and just control what he can control and not worry about failure. They want him to maintain his approach and not let failure shake him up too much so that he remains composed and confident to attack hitters even if he is giving up hits or his command starts to go a little. Moving forward, as teams continue to gain an understanding of what he is trying to do, he is going to have to learn to make adjustments to their adjustments. The Indians want him to get to one or both of his breaking balls consistently so that he can come into the game with it every night and be consistent with it so that he can keep hitters honest when he has to and keep them off the plate. He also needs to do a better job of establishing that he can use his pitches to both sides of the plate.

Future: The Indians felt Garner could thrive in a potential bullpen role because of his great fastball velocity and the amount of groundballs he generates from the good movement his fastball gets, and so far, their prediction has been proven right. What looked like a filler signing in 2015, to his credit he bought into the move to the bullpen and the changes the Indians encouraged him to adopt, and he turned out to be more than was expected as he impressed in his short stint at High-A Lynchburg that season and really opened some eyes when he went out to the Arizona Fall League and showed some plus stuff. The Indians were curious to see more in 2016, so pushed him to Double-A Akron to start the season and he impressed and was quickly moved to Triple-A Columbus and just continued to dominate before earning his first Major League promotion to Cleveland at the end of August. He showed flashes of potential in his time in Cleveland and has now solidified himself as one of the Indians depth relievers and has a chance to impact the bullpen this year and for years to come in just about any role. The move to a new organization and new role has been a huge benefit for him as the move to the Indians and to the bullpen has brought about a renewed sense of energy, hope and feeling of belonging for him. In the end, he was an amazing story last season and is yet another example that prospects can come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and can even be released from other teams. He has a chance to make the Indians opening day roster as one of the final pieces to the bullpen, and if he doesn’t he will go to Triple-A Columbus and be one of the first options they call upon when a bullpen need arises.

Ranking History: UR (2016)

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