Raising Reds: Will Amir Garrett Choose Horsehide or Hoops?


He does not appear on any top 10 Reds prospect list. It could be because of the question: Will Amir Garrett choose baseball of basketball?

Heading into the 2013 season, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo had Garrett as the Reds 20th ranked prospect.

Honestly, it’s too soon to arrive at an answer to the previously asked question, but if you gloss over his baseball and college basketball numbers (a table of each is at the end of this post), it appears that, as of the moment, baseball is presenting a better opportunity to Garrett.

That could partially change over the upcoming fall as Garrett will begin to attend Cal State Northridge after playing two seasons at of college basketball at St. John’s. Garrett will have to sit a year due to the NCAA’s transfer rules.

Garrett’s path to being drafted by the Reds may seem like a short, compelling tale, but it isn’t.

Garrett had attended Leuzinger High School in California for his junior year, but moved back to Nevada to attend Findley Prep for his senior year. While attending Findley Prep, located in the Las Vegas area, he could concentrate on hoops, but there was one thing. Findley, noted as a basketball producing school, didn’t have a baseball team.

That didn’t deter him as Garret was persuaded by his father to keep looking into baseball. The 6-5 (it could be 6-6 depending on where you look) left-handed pitcher decided to hold a private workout. Although Garrett had already committed to attending St. John’s to play basketball, there’s always that rare talent that is a “must see”.

Garrett was obviously in that mold as, according to SI.com’s Luke Winn, 37 MLB scouts showed up at a Las Vegas field to watch Garrett pitch. After the workout, most were convinced of Garrett’s talent despite missing a year of playing.

There’s also this from Baseball America…

The issue now: baseball or basketball?

Garrett’s father, Darrow, has this from the SI.com piece.

"“I tell the [MLB] teams that we’ve created a relationship with St. John’s that’s hard to break. It’s going to take something extra reassuring, financially, to make it worth our while.”"

Well, the Reds must have taken Darrow to heart as they presented Amir with a $1M signing bonus. A bit hefty for a 22nd round pick? Sure, especially with the new slotting system of today, but with Garrett’s raw athleticism and being a lefty that can hit 95+ on the gun? The front office must have felt this opportunity was too good to let slide without the incentive.

And if you refer back to the above video, his delivery has a slightly familiar look about it.

Garrett saw the same and accepted the terms.

Now that “other” decision. Since Garrett had received that financial reassurance from a pro baseball team, would he now opt not to go to St. John’s? Considering he was a four-star basketball recruit and a member of one of the nation’s top 5 recruiting classes, it was also a no-brainer that Garrett should also head to St. John’s.

Hurdles developed. Garrett was forced to sit out the fall semester of his freshman year due to not qualifying academically. He could have left St. John’s and gone elsewhere. Had the opportunity to head elsewhere. It was Garrett’s choice and he chose to stay.

Some may have viewed that when Garrett announced he not attend St. John’s for his junior season, he had reached that answer to the question of baseball or basketball and baseball had “won”. Not so fast on that assessment. Look at it from the basketball side of things.

He will be playing for Reggie Theus at CSN. Theus had a successful college career as a player (at UNLV) and successful NBA career as a player. He also served as a head coach for a brief period for the Sacramento Kings. Theus could definitely deliver some sound advice to Garrett.

And these days, the NBA draft is more predicated on a player’s potential and how high the ceiling rather than the numbers one puts up during his college career. It’s no guarantee if that’s the route Garrett takes.

Now look at Garrett’s current situation as a member of the Billings Mustangs. His pitching coach is none other than Mr. Perfect himself, Tom Browning. He can shed a little light on the baseball side of things for Garrett.

In the Mustang’s season opener, Garrett was awarded the start…and his first professional win as he pitched 5 innings allowing only one run (unearned) on three hits. He only walked one and struck out six. Not a bad way to start a season by any means.

There’s no guarantee that we will ever see Garrett pitch a game at Great American Ball Park or that Garrett will even make it that far in his baseball career. but signs point that odds are increasingly going to his side of the ledger.

But we will always want to know if it’s pitching or shooting. The general feeling may be that until Garrett commits to only one sport, he will be unable to succeed in that sport in which he ultimately chooses. “The sooner, the better” perspective.

Until that day comes when a decision is made, it will rest in the back of everyone’s mind.

Including Garrett’s.

MiLB stats

CBB stats