Amir Garrett stole a line from Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch when he answered a question about moving up to Double A baseball, where he will begin the year as a starting pitcher for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
“I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” Garrett said a couple of times before getting serious at the team’s media day April 5. “I’m just playing. It means a lot to be here. I’ve been working hard.”
Garrett is not your typical baseball star, the guy who plays all through high school, wowing scouts along the way, and then jumps to the professional level because his potential is seemingly endless.
No, Garrett spent his prep career, the majority of it at least, playing basketball. He was a four-star recruit at the forward position and spent his senior season at high school powerhouse Findlay Prep in Las Vegas where one of his teammates was former No. 1 NBA Draft pick Anthony Bennett.
Garrett committed to St. John’s and played two seasons with the Red Storm. He transferred as a junior to Cal State Northridge but had to sit out the 2013-14 campaign because of transfer rules.
The next year, he decided to stick with baseball only, a sport he decided to pick up again after not playing it since his freshman year of high school. His dad had held a tryout session for him in front of Major League Scouts his senior year in 2011 and the Cincinnati Reds drafted him in the 22nd round.
“At first I thought it was like a dream,” Garrett said of the tryout. “There were scouts from every team and it made me feel good about myself. I pitched in front of them and felt like I could really do this.”
He was asked if it was difficult to throw a pitch after not doing it regularly for so long.
It turns out it wasn’t.
“It came back to me like riding a bike,” Garrett said. “I had been out of baseball awhile but I felt like I always had it in me to pitch well.”
Garrett, given a $1 million signing bonus and permission from the Reds to play college hoops, spent all of 2012 and part of 2013 playing rookie ball. He was promoted to Dayton (Ohio) of the Midwest League later in 2013 and played in Dragons in 2014 as well.
Read more in the April 14 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.