Who Is Shawn Garrett and Can He Win A Job?

Shawn Garrett is a little known minor league free agent signing from this past winter, who came to the Phillies with absolutely no fanfare. Now, he's in the thick of trying to win a job as the team's fifth outfielder.

Shawn Garrett is used to not getting much attention. He was originally drafted in the 29th round by the Padres, which doesn't exactly give a player a front page headline or much attention in the organization. He's been traded twice and has played for four other organizations before signing with the Phillies.

The Padres started Garrett off as a third baseman, but after 18 errors in just 49 games at third, they decided that wasn't exactly the best spot for him. From there, he moved to first base and finally settled in the outfield, spending some time as a designated hitter. The fact that he's a switch-hitter with a little bit of power - a career high 17 home runs last season - has kept him employed and after a one month audition at AAA with Colorado in 2004, he spent all of last season at AAA Sacramenton in the A's organization. His AAA numbers - 20 HR, 104 RBI, .309 AVG - are impressive, but at age 27, Garrett is looking past AAA.

There is no mistaking the fact that the Phillies need a fifth outfielder and are hoping that they can find one to provide power from the left side of the plate. That's where Garrett could be a tempting addition to the Phillies lineup. He's a switch-hitter, but 15 of his 17 homeruns came against right-handed pitching last season. Plus, he hit .313 against right-handers versus a .238 average against lefties at AAA Sacramento.

While he's been in major league camps the past couple of seasons, Garrett has never gotten much of a look. He had 30 at bats with Oakland last spring, but hit just .167 in spring training. Garrett already has 18 at bats this spring - second only to Shane Victorino, who has 23 - and a .278 average. His most impressive achievement has been two ninth inning homeruns, the first of which helped mount a rally that resulted in a Phillies' win and the second put the Phillies in position to tie the game, although they came up short.

The Phillies are continuing their search for a fifth outfielder outside of the organization, but if none can be found, or if Shawn Garrett continues his solid spring hitting, it could be that they'll find the answer right in their very own clubhouse. An added benefit for Garrett is that he could also spell Ryan Howard at first base against some tough lefties and the Phillies have played him at first base on a couple of occasions this spring.

It's all just a matter of seeing whether the Phillies will trust a young, rookie outfielder with the job of serving as a utility hitter off the bench. The odds are long, but not impossible.


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