Brennan Garr became one of the Rangers' top relief prospects last season after reaching Double-A Frisco in his first full professional season.
Garr reached Frisco in 2007 after allowing just 12 earned runs and 34 hits in 55.1 innings between Single-A Clinton and High-A Bakersfield. He struggled after his late-season promotion to Frisco, walking 10 batters in seven innings.
The right-hander's Double-A troubles continued into 2008, as he allowed six runs on six hits and six walks in 4.1 innings in April. With his velocity down and control inconsistent, Garr was placed on the disabled list with a minor shoulder issue.
The 24-year-old rested and rehabbed his shoulder for three weeks before coming off the DL on May 8. Garr's results since being activated have been much more comparable to his outstanding 2007 campaign. In 33 innings since the injury, Garr has posted a 2.73 ERA. He has surrendered 31 hits while walking 15 and striking out 42.
Garr has been especially effective of late. Over his last 10 appearances, spanning 13.1 frames, Garr has struck out 21 batters and issued only four walks. The prospect certainly has the stuff to pitch in a big league bullpen, but he has often run into trouble at the Double-A level by falling behind in counts and walking hitters. If Garr is able to continue missing bats while cutting down on the walks, he could see time in the Rangers bullpen as early as the 2009 season.
Lone Star Dugout recently sat down with the reliever for a Q&A session.
Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on your season here in Frisco?
Brennan Garr: My season so far – I think it started off a little slow. I dealt with a little bit of arm trouble, but nothing too serious. As soon as I started feeling better, I felt like I have put together a pretty good season so far. I'm looking to maybe have a better second half than first half, so that's kind of what I'm focused on right now.
Cole: How is your arm feeling right now?
Garr: My arm is feeling good. It has been feeling good ever since I got off the DL.
Cole: Your numbers have been pretty solid again over the last three months. What has been the difference? Has it just been getting healthy again?
Garr: I think health was part of it and a little bit of mechanic stuff. Also being able to locate my fastball again, which I struggled with early in the year. That has probably been the biggest part of it.
Cole: What's the mechanical stuff that you've had to straighten out?
Garr: Just the stuff I always work on like lengthening my stride out and getting down the hill. That's the majority of what I need to work on the most. Also this year I've been trying to stay square to the plate. I have been flying open to the plate, so I need to keep it closed down the mound. That's mostly what I've been working on this year.
Cole: It seems like you are throwing your changeup quite a bit now. Have you been throwing it more often than you did last year?
Garr: Yeah, I've been trying to force myself to throw it more often. Personally, I think it's a real good pitch that I have and I need to learn when to use it and to be able to throw it for strikes whenever I want. I'd like to get it to where my slider is right now. It feels like I could throw that for a strike when I need to – if I'm down in the count and in a fastball count. I want to get that way with my changeup, so I'm trying to force myself to use it at least two or three times an outing.
Cole: Since you've always been a fastball-slider guy, is it difficult to force yourself to throw the changeup in tight situations?
Garr: It's more of a challenge for me trying to figure out when to throw it in the count. That's what is different. My mind is out there and I'm thinking that I know when to throw a slider or when a guy is leaning over the plate. Now I have just been trying to figure out how to use the changeup, like what counts to use it in and if it's going to be more of a putaway pitch or a pitch that I can get over whenever I want. I'm learning to deal with that right now.
Cole: Earlier in the season, you would come into a game in the ninth inning one night, and then the next night you'd come in during the fifth. Do you feel like you have settled into any kind of role with this team right now?
Garr: Not necessarily. We don't really have a whole lot of roles. Lately, I've been towards the end of the game, where I'd like to be. At the beginning of the year, I was a middle guy. But lately I've been more towards the end. That is where I want to be and that's where I see myself at.
Cole: Is your mindset any different whether you come in during the fifth or the ninth?
Garr: That's something me and T.C. [pitching coach Terry Clark] talked about during the year. We talked about how you go into a ball game if you're up 11-2 or down 2-11 or whatever. You need to keep the same mindset. We worked on that. I mean yeah, it's tough to go into certain situations when you're killing somebody or if you're losing by a lot when you're used to pitching in a save situation all the time. I guess when we talked about that, I learned to keep the same focus whether I'm in a save situation or I'm just getting some work in.
Cole: I know your velocity was down a notch early in the season. As you've gotten healthy again, has it gotten back to where you expect to be?
Garr: Yeah, it's back to where I was last year.
Cole: Tell me about what your goals are and what you're looking for here in the second half of the season.
Garr: Just pound the strike zone more. I've walked a few more guys that I'd have liked to so far this year. I want to try and cut down on the walks. I want to get ahead with my fastball and work on my changeup more. Pretty much, that's it.
Location gets Garr back on track
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