Though Clinton reliever Brennan Garr is in his first season as a full-time pitcher, he has already impressed Rangers officials and fans alike. A product of the University of Northern Colorado, Garr was used as both a hitter and a pitcher throughout his collegiate career. The Arvada, Colorado, native hit .346 with eight home runs and 44 RBI as his team's third baseman last season. He was also used as the team's closer, posting five saves with a 5.40 ERA in 13 appearances.
The Rangers drafted Garr in the ninth round of the MLB draft last year and converted him into a full-time pitcher. The righty had a 2-0 record with a 4.85 ERA in his professional debut with Short-Season Spokane.
With a 2.79 earned run average in 19 appearances this season, Garr has broken out as one of the top relief prospects in the Rangers organization. In 29 innings, the 23-year-old has allowed just 19 hits while walking 15 and striking out 35. Opposing hitters are batting just .183 off him.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with the hard-throwing reliever before a recent Clinton LumberKings game.
Jason Cole: First off, are you happy with the way your season has gone so far?
Brennan Garr: Yeah, so far I've been real pleased with what's going on. I'm learning a lot from Danny Clark, our pitching coach.
Cole: Can you talk about the pitches you throw and the speeds you typically work at?
Garr: I mostly throw a fastball and a curveball/slider. You can call it a slurve I guess. My fastball is between 92 and 95. It has been higher than that a couple of times this year. My slider has been around 81-83.
Cole: Which would you consider your best pitch right now?
Garr: That would be my fastball.
Cole: You did both hitting and pitching in college. Do you miss hitting at all?
Garr: No. [laughs] I get that question all the time but I've really started to fall in love with pitching. I'm not really missing it at all.
Cole: Was it harder to develop as a pitcher when you were hitting and playing in the field as well?
Garr: Oh yeah, for sure. I never really threw bullpens. I just kind of went out there in the ninth inning and threw. I guess you could say I was a thrower then. I didn't get to work on any of my offspeed stuff. I mostly focused on hitting because that's what my head coach had me do. It wasn't really my choice, but I wish I would have been able to fine-tune pitching a little bit more.
Cole: Did any teams approach you about drafting you as a hitter?
Garr: I had a few teams ask me what I'd rather do and I just told them that I saw my future in professional baseball as being a pitcher.
Cole: You started off slow in April but you've been great since then. How have you progressed throughout this year?
Garr: I'm going to give a lot of credit to the pitching coach here, Danny Clark. He works with me all the time. He knows me from Spokane last year and that helps a lot. Looking at video and doing a lot of stuff off the mound has been helping a lot. But mostly it's just becoming a pitcher and learning how to pitch.
Cole: Your ground ball-to-fly ball ratio is almost 2.5:1. Have you always been a ground ball pitcher?
Garr: I think that comes from learning how to pitch down in the zone. I've been working on my glove-side fastball a lot and keeping it down around the knees. I think that's where it is coming from.
Cole: Does your fastball generally have much sink on it?
Garr: It has some arm-side run on it and I've been told it's got a little bit of sink.
Cole: You got selected to play in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Can you talk about that honor?
Garr: I was real happy about that. It was a real good experience up there in Kane County. It was definitely something to remember and I felt real honored to be there.
Cole: Have you set any goals for the rest of the year?
Garr: For the rest of the year I'm going to work on my slider a little more. My fastball has been pretty consistent. I want to work on my slider more and keep it a little lower in the zone to get some more ground balls. Our pitching coach here has us set little goals. After we reach those, we keep going to more goals. Right now we're going to work on getting the slider a little lower in the zone.
Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Brennan Garr
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