Amir Garrett on 2019 Reds: ‘The word rebuild should be out the door’

Cincinnati Reds pitchers Amir Garrett (50), Alex Wood (40), Michael Lorenzen (21) and Odrisamer Despaigne (73) join others as they pitch during workouts at the Reds spring training baseball facility, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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Cincinnati Reds pitchers Amir Garrett (50), Alex Wood (40), Michael Lorenzen (21) and Odrisamer Despaigne (73) join others as they pitch during workouts at the Reds spring training baseball facility, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Amir Garrett is one of a long list of Cincinnati Reds pitching prospects in the last few years who might have been pushed up to the big league roster before they were ready.

Like former Dayton Dragons teammates Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson, Garrett needs to impress a new manager (David Bell) and pitching coach (Derek Johnson) this spring. The addition of veterans Sonny Gray, Alex Wood and Tanner Roark means fewer spots available on the 2019 pitching staff.

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“The competition level is going to rise. You see guys coming out with a chip on their shoulder,” Garrett said. “The window is closing and it’s just going to lift up the competition.”

Garrett, 26, made his major league debut in April 2017 as a starting pitcher and won his first two games, but that success quickly faded. The 6-foot-5 left-hander lost six of his next seven decisions and was shipped out to Triple-A Louisville until rosters were expanded in September.

When Garrett returned, he was transformed into a relief pitcher, where he seems to have found a home.

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“I love the bullpen and eventually I want to be a closer,” said Garrett, who finished 3-8 with a 7.39 ERA that first season. “It’s fits my personality. I can come in and attack a hitter and not save anything for later. I can just put it all on the line that day.”

Garrett made the permanent move to the bullpen at the end of spring training last year. He appeared in 66 games (1-2, 4.29 ERA) last season and now seems to thrive on the pressure of being a reliever.

“I can go two games in a row, three games in a row, whatever the team needs me to do,” he said. If I’m falling off on that fourth day and they say, ‘Amir we need you,’ I’m going to go and give it everything I’ve got.”

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Garrett will likely be on the opening day roster for the third year in a row when the season starts next month, and like the other guys who have been part of losing teams, he’s ready to have something positive to build on.

“I feel like the word rebuild should be out the door,” he said. “We’re progressing and getting better and I think we’re going to turn some heads this year.”

Garrett took his confidence public right before Christmas when he tweeted, “Y’all can quote me, save the tweet. Whatever, but we about to make some noise,” and he backed that up this week.

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“We are about to make some noise,” he said. “It’s not going to be coming into Great American Ball Park anymore and thinking ‘we’re playing the Reds we don’t have to give out best.’ I’m going to say it even if some teammates aren’t … we’re here to play.”

Garrett climbed the ladder quickly through the Reds minor league system, and he’s not wasting any time making an impression this spring. He opened some eyes Tuesday, throwing live batting practice to a group that included Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez.

“I feel like this is my year to progress as a pitcher and be better,” Garrett said. “I know the organization expects a lot from me so I can carry that on my shoulders and it’s time to show them that I’m the pitcher they always thought I would be.”


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