Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 22

Given the body and athletic ability of Amir Garrett it's not surprising that his prep years were spent focusing on basketball, even if the sport did not utilize his mid-90's fastball. Utilized or not, it was enough for Cincinnati to drop a big signing bonus on him so they could use whatever time available to develop him as a pitcher.

Left-hander Amir Garrett is an experienced NCAA athlete, unfortunately for the Reds all of that experience has been on the basketball court. For two seasons he'd been a backup swingman for St. John's before leaving the school this past April. Had the Reds gotten their preference he would have dedicated himself to baseball and working on his mid-90's fastball. They've already invested a million dollar signing bonus on him after drafting him in the 22nd round in 2011. He may very well do that, but he's still left the door open to pursuing a hoops career further by enrolling at the University of Cal-Northridge.

Inability to focus on one sport is a handicap on any prospect's development, especially one as raw as Garrett. During high school he attended a prep school to showcase his roundball skills that didn't even have a baseball team. An impressive showing of velocity at a baseball tryout camp put him on the radar of multiple baseball teams and the Reds must have been interested in waiting to see how his basketball career transpired in order for a chance to ink early round talent with 685th pick in the draft.

Moving from the Big East to the Big West is normally a step down for hoopster, however the Matadors have former NBA star Reggie Theus coaching their team and Garrett won't have as much competition for attention from his new teammates. In between seasons he's expected to continue working part time on his pitching skills. He has a lanky 6'5"/210# frame with a basketball player's wing span he can use to generate torque. Actually the southpaw's physique is a good starting point for re-creating another Aroldis Chapman. Thus far he's been used as a starter in the short season leagues before making a jump to single A last July.

In 2013 he fared better at Billings than he did in the Arizona league the previous season and kept a 2.66 ERA after five starts. That earned him a promotion after which things did not go as smoothly, finishing with an ernie barely under seven in eight outings at Dayton. Normally the 21 year-old would be gearing up for his first full professional season this spring, but his college obligations continue to take up his time for what may very well be his preferred sport.

The deficiencies in his game are what could be expected for an inexperienced prospect with a schedule that prevents him from working on his game year-round. He's walked a lot of batters, probably from an inability to develop a consistent delivery. Still, though more experience on the diamond would be preferred, absence of it does not necessarily mean absence of ability. Cincinnati thought highly enough of said ability to invest $1 million and wait patiently as what could be his second priority when it comes to pursuing a career as a professional athlete. His prospect status on the hardwood took a hit when he left a major conference for a lower profile school. If/when his basketball career comes to an end Cincinnati is sure to have some plans for the time freed from it.


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