Garko has Sights Set High

Biscuits slugger Ryan Garko said last month he would give this last attempt at getting back to the big leagues all he's got. So far, he has. In 35 games and 131 at- bats he has hit four home runs with 22 RBI and owns a .344 batting average and a .445 on-base percentage. He is slugging .489. He has turned it up a notch in June, too, a time where some Rays at his position are struggling.

After serving six seasons in the big leagues, — and leading the Cleveland Indians in RBI in one of them — Biscuits slugger Ryan Garko didn't exactly feel the same as a typical minor-leaguer after a two-hit game on Monday against Tyler Skaggs.

"With all due respect," Garko said, "I have my sights set a bit higher."

Unbeknownst to Garko, however, was that the Mobile BayBears' Skaggs is ranked as the fourth-best left-handed prospect in the minor leagues, according to Major League Baseball.

"He seemed like he had an idea of what he was doing," Garko said. "I didn't know about his ranking, I don't really pay attention to that."The former big leaguer said he also doesn't pay too much mind to what the Tampa Bay Rays, the major league club that signed him and assigned him to their Double-A affiliate on May 16, are doing in terms of roster movements and which players are on the disabled list.

Despite his success, he said a decision on whether he is promoted is not entirely up to him.

"I don't pay attention to any of that stuff," he said. "I'm focused on playing for this team right now. If they have the game on here, I'll watch it but I don't look at stats of anyone else or anything like that."

If one were to look, however, at the stats of designated hitters and first baseman that the Rays employ, Hideki Matsui and his .162 batting average through 22 games would be found. Also noticeable would be the line of first baseman Carlos Pena, who has had a Pena-like season: 10 home runs, .198 batting average and 94 strikeouts in more than 250 at-bats. Outfielder/designated hitter Luke Scott is rehabbing an injury at Triple-A Durham but his MLB stats are not overwhelming either: nine home runs, .220/.287/.424.

Garko's stats at the Double-A level seemingly improve by the day. In 35 games and 131 at-bats he has hit four home runs with 22 RBI and owns a .344 batting average and a .445 on-base percentage. He is slugging .489.

In June, he has hit .377 and he has gone 13-28 since the all-star break.

"I feel real good," Garko said. "I feel like my bat speed is good and I'm having quality at- bats each night."

As reported last month by Rays Digest, Garko worked all winter with a personal trainer in an effort to lose weight, add more muscle and increase his chances at signing with a big league club after being out of the MLB last season and suffering an injury in Korea.

He signed with the Long Island Ducks, in the Atlantic League, where he hit .450 in 16 games before the Rays picked him up.

While being pitched around at certain points in games this season, Garko said one of the things he is most proud of while trying to prove his way back to the majors is his eye at the plate.

Garko's thoughts were echoed by his hitting instructor Ozzie Timmons, who said he knows when to just leave an established hitter alone.

"With a guy like him, I just let him do his own thing and let him come to me if he needs anything," said Biscuits hitting coach Ozzie Timmons. "He's a real strong guy and his bat speed seems pretty good."



Will Sammon is the Montgomery Biscuits beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @WillSammon.

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