Name: Brennan Garr
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: February 22, 1984
During his career at the University of Northern Colorado, Brennan Garr was far and away the team's top pro prospect. But it was hardly because of his efforts on the mound.
Playing third base, Garr paced the Bears' offense in 2005 and 2006 by batting .365 and .348, respectively. He belted eight home runs in each season.
Garr also worked as his team's closer, but it didn't lead to many innings. The Wheatridge, Colo., native picked up five saves during his junior season in 2006, but he appeared in just 13 games, spanning 13.1 innings.
The Rangers liked Garr's arm even despite his extreme lack of experience. In addition to throwing just 13 innings in 2006, Garr didn't spend much time practicing on the mound. The hurler says he never threw bullpen sessions in practice until he reached the professional level.
But Garr's inexperience wasn't enough to deter the Rangers, as he was drafted in the ninth round of the 2006 MLB Draft. Though he had a great arm, with a fastball that could reach the low-90s, Garr was far from polished. In his 13.1 innings at UNC, the righty issued 15 walks.
It didn't take long for Garr to show his promise. Garr reported to short-season Spokane shortly after signing and was one of the team's most impressive pitchers. He finished the season with a 4.85 ERA, but flashed above-average stuff and his control was beginning to improve.
Garr would break out in his second season – 2007 – thanks to improved mechanics and the addition of a changeup. The 24-year-old also added velocity to his fastball. Garr's fastball now runs anywhere between 92-96 MPH.
Opening the season with Single-A Clinton, Garr posted a 2.31 ERA while striking out 50 batters in 39 innings. By issuing only 16 walks, Garr also took a big step in curtailing his past control issues.
The strong performance led to a promotion to High-A Bakersfield, but Garr hardly had the opportunity to unpack his bags. The prospect was there for just 10 appearances, and he was every bit as dominant as he had been in Clinton.
Garr was sent to Double-A Frisco – his third affiliate in one season – for the final two weeks of the regular season. The right-hander got action in six games. Though he finished with a 2.57 ERA, his velocity had dropped slightly and he issued 10 walks in seven innings. It would seem likely that Garr was tired at the end of the year. That would be expected of a young pitcher that had never thrown more than 16.2 innings in a collegiate season.
Upon the conclusion of his 2007 season, Garr was set to be a member of the Rangers' fall instructional league club. Even though Garr did report to Arizona, a minor back injury kept him from appearing in any games. The ailment is currently a thing of the past and he will be ready for the start of the 2008 season.
Also See: Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Rick Adair (June 16, 2007)
Instant Analysis: Clinton/Kane County (June 22, 2007)
Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Brennan Garr (June 24, 2007)
Garr developing a third pitch (August 12, 2007)
Instant Analysis: Frisco at Tulsa (August 17, 2007)
Instant Analysis: Frisco at Wichita (August 18, 2007)
Garr working on mechanics (October 1, 2007)
Sizing up the relief prospects (December 1, 2007)
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Because he was sparingly used as a pitcher in college, it was no surprise that Garr's velocity and stuff improved as he began to throw bullpens and put more emphasis on his game as a pitcher. Garr's fastball – which has some sink – fluctuated anywhere between 92-96 MPH in his first full season, often sitting in the middle. Garr keeps his fastball low in the zone, allowing him to keep the ball in the park while posting solid groundout-to-flyout ratios. The Colorado native is somewhat rare in that he is a power strikeout reliever with the ability to keep the ball on the ground. His slider – which is more of a slurve – is a plus strikeout pitch. Garr spent the second half of his season working to develop a changeup, which is already close to becoming a third plus pitch. The pitch gives the prospect three above-average big league offerings, a rare commodity for a relief pitcher.
Projection: Garr's power three-pitch repertoire makes him an ideal late-inning reliever at the next level. But Garr is not a lock to reach that ceiling, as he must first iron out old command and mechanical issues that returned late in the 2007 season. A portion of those problems could probably be chalked up to fatigue. After never pitching much in college, Garr did log over 62 innings last season.
2008 Outlook: Garr flew through the system in 2007, as he reached Double-A Frisco in his first full season. The hard-throwing reliever should begin his 2008 season where he left off last year – in the RoughRiders' bullpen. With the recent retirement of Jesse Ingram and no true closer making the leap from Bakersfield, Garr should be the team's closer. Not only does Garr have a chance to reach Triple-A Oklahoma by the end of the season, but he could finish the year in the Rangers' bullpen if he continues to progress at his current rate. With that said, Garr doesn't figure to be a true factor in the big league picture until next season.