Sports

Reds’ Pitcher Played Hoops at St. John’s

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Amir Garrett once suited up as a basketball player on the St. John’s University men’s team. (Photo: Cincinnati Reds)

Local college basketball aficionadas will remember the name Amir Garrett, who started 11 games at small forward for the St. John’s University, Jamaica, men’s basketball team during the 2012-2013 season.

However, what they might not know is that Garrett has continued his professional athletic career – albeit trying his hand at a different sport.

The 25-year-old currently plays pro baseball as a starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. For Garrett, just being able to play sports on the national stage has been a blessing.

The Victorville, Calif., native attended three different high schools out west, the third of which did not have a baseball team. His father organized a training session for MLB scouts to watch him pitch, and Garrett’s fastball topped out at 96 mph on the radar gun.

Draft This Guy

If scouts know one thing, it’s that if you come across a left-handed pitcher who happens to be 6-feet, 6-inches tall throwing 96 mph, you immediately tell your bosses to draft this guy.

The Reds selected Garrett in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft, with the provision that he would be able to continue his basketball career. He enrolled at Bridgton Academy, a college preparatory school in Maine, for the 2011-2012 hoops season.

Ranked as the 68th best basketball prospect in the country and 21st among small forwards, Garrett was an appealing fit for St. John’s. He played 26.9 minutes per game as a freshman for the Red Storm and began learning what it would take to compete as a top-notch athlete.

Garrett then went on to play baseball during the summer of 2012 for the Reds Arizona League affiliate, the Billings Mustangs. He was soon back on the basketball court for St. John’s, averaging 5.4 pts. and 4.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

In 2013, he began the baseball season at Billings and was soon promoted to the Reds Single-A Midwest League affiliate, the Dayton Dragons. He transferred out of St. John’s to attend California State University, Northridge.

After sitting out the 2013-2014 basketball season due to NCAA transfer rules, Garrett turned in a solid season on the baseball diamond, pitching to a 7-8 record with a 3.65 ERA in 27 games for Dayton.

In August 2014, he decided to give up basketball and strictly pursue baseball.

Garrett was added to the Reds’ 40-man roster following the 2014 season. He spent 2015 pitching for the Reds Single-A Advanced Florida State League (FSL) affiliate, the Daytona Tortugas. He represented the Reds in that summer’s annual All-Star Futures Game and finished the year with a 2.44 ERA and 133 strikeouts – earning him co-FSL Pitcher of the Year honors.

The next season, he began with the Reds’ Double-A Southern League affiliate, the Pensacola Wahoos. In June, he was promoted to the club’s Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats. He again appeared in the All-Star Futures Game and posted a 7-8 record with an impressive 2.55 ERA.

Following a strong showing during this past spring training, Garrett earned a spot in the starting pitching rotation on the Reds’ Opening Day roster. On April 7 – his MLB debut – he pitched six shutout innings giving up just two hits to the St. Louis Cardinals to record his first big-league victory.

It’s been an up-and-down season since then, as he’s dealt with an injury and trips back-and-forth to the minors. He was again back in the bigs in early September when the rosters expanded for the final month.

After getting a taste of pro baseball, Garrett is poised to take the next steps in his blossoming career.

Whether playing for the Red Storm or just the plain old Reds, Garrett has proven he’s a competitor with the work ethic to excel in high-level sports.


Contact Jim Mancari via email at jmmanc@gmail.com.

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