Scouting Padres Prospect Steve Garrison

Shoulder surgery the previous October set the stage for a late debut for San Diego Padres prospect Steve Garrison. It took some time for him to regain his form. He was rewarded when the Padres added him to the 40-man roster, despite a knee injury that required surgery.

Vital Statistics;
Name: Steve Garrison
Position: LHP
DOB: September 12, 1986
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 185
Bats: Switch
Throws: Left

The surprising part about requiring surgery is in relation to his clean mechanics. The Padres believed that if anyone could avoid a serious injury it would be Garrison.

Garrison began his comeback in the Arizona Rookie League, getting his feet wet with nine starts and 20.1 innings of work. He went 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA across that span, giving up 22 hits and five walks while striking out 22. Nine of the runs he allowed came across his final two outings.

The southpaw moved on to Lake Elsinore for a two-game stint. He earned a four-inning save in his first outing and surrendered one earned in his final outing before getting moved back to Double-A – the spot he ended the previous year before shoulder woes cut his season short. Garrison worked in six innings across two games. In his second start before the playoffs, the lefty allowed two homers and five runs over one inning before getting pulled. He would not pitch in the playoffs.

The New Jersey native would go on to pitch in the Arizona Fall League where he went 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA across six starts. In 18.2 innings, he allowed 17 hits and six walks while fanning 11.

"He had good outings," roving pitching coordinator Mike Couchee said. "I saw him pitch in two games. The first one was what I expected and the second one was better than I expected. He went into his stage where he had a dead arm and bounced back. I was pleased with what I saw. The breaking stuff, which is typically the last thing to come, was better than I expected it to be. For him being the type of command guy that he is, even that was better than I thought."

Across those four leagues, Garrison held left-handed hitters to a .231 average.

His stint in the fall league was cut short when he suffered a knee injury during his November 14 start. He had surgery the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and is expected to be out until May, 2010.

Acquired in a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers along with Joe Thatcher and Will Inman for Scott Linebrink, Garrison was added to the Padres 40-man roster this off-season, despite the knee injury.

Prior to injury, Garrison was cruising.

Garrison allowed one run or less in 10 of his 24 starts during 2008 while with San Antonio, tossing a no-hitter over seven innings during an April 12 win.

His season ended with a 7-7 mark and 3.82 ERA, as he tossed 66.3 percent of his 2000 pitches on the season for strikes. He never threw more than 97 in a game and made it through six innings 10 times.

"He has the pitches to get both right-handers and left-handers out," former San Antonio and current Portland pitching coach Steve Webber said. "He had four pitches: curveball, slider change, fastball – two-seam, four-seam. So, he matches up well with both sides."

Garrison sets the tone early with first-pitch strikes. He is one of the foremost connoisseurs in getting ahead in the count. With his ability to work the count into his favor early, the left-hander can use his entire arsenal to keep hitter's guessing.

Everything is setup through fastball command. He can throw it inside, outside, up or down. With pinpoint control of the pitch, he can utilize all four quadrants effectively. There are times when the catcher puts the mitt out and doesn't have to move to corral Garrison's ball.

Working in the high-80s and touching 90 mph, Garrison's fastball has late sinking action that produces more ground ball outs than in the past. He worked hard to get a little more life to his pitches in an effort to keep the ball out of the air. Very rarely is it thrown to a bad location and those games are evident. He had more of those games on his return from shoulder surgery but there is little doubt he should return to form when fully recovered.

One of the few pitchers that can throw both the curveball and slider effectively, each pitch has its use. Garrison prefers to use the curveball on right-handed hitters to start outside the zone and break across the outside corner of the plate. The hammer has lateral movement as well as tight drop of a two-plane variety. His slider is used more exclusively to left-handers – a pitch that he feels deceives the hitter into seeing strike before it drops just out of the zone on the outside corner. He needs to create less spin on the pitch, as it doesn't have as much depth as necessary to be effective all the time.

His changeup has improved over the last two years – a pitch that took a lot of effort to command. He has been able to throw it right-handed hitters effectively, giving them a pitch that goes away from them rather than into their hitting zone. Its effectiveness feeds off his fastball command and can be a true out pitch with a little more work.

Controlling the running game has been something emphasized and seized by Garrison. He used to have issues keeping runners from stealing third but improved vastly in this area.

Garrison isn't rattled by what occurs on the mound but is more prone to the mental side by injuries. He took the shoulder injury hard and had to overcome a belief that things would not go well. On the hill, he is confident and determined.

Conclusion: Getting added to the 40-man roster was a huge boost for Garrison's morale, especially after a knee injury. He has the stuff to be a productive contributor to the backend of the rotation but must stay healthy to achieve those ends. He is a full year away, once healthy, but could be a longtime member of a major league staff.

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