Stone Garrett is one of the more hard-working players I have encountered in the minor leagues. Before the games, he hit before anyone else, hit more than anyone else, and outran all his teammates in warm-ups. On Tuesday prior to the opener of the Staten Island versus Batavia series, I had the chance to interview Stone and see what he is all about.
When I asked Garrett what type of player he would be at the major league level, it became apparent Stone’s confidence matched his work ethic. "I can be a 30-30 guy."
Can Stone actually reach this lofty goal? Let’s see if we can find out by taking an all-around look at his game.
I really like watching Stone Garrett’s swing. It’s a short, simple stroke that can generate both line drives and home runs. His bat is extremely quick and he does an excellent job transferring his weight from his back foot to the ball. Stone stays behind the ball well and makes good contact, even when it results in an out. He does not try to do too much with pitches. He can spray the ball to all fields. I would like to see him get a little more extension after the swing, but he seems to be doing alright so far in pro ball, anyway. I think the hit tool here could be a 55 or even 60 future value.
I knew Stone had good tools and good numbers before I came to Staten Island. However, one of his statistics stood out to me as a red flag. Coming into the series, Stone was slugging over .550 but only had a .317 on-base-percentage.
After watching him in person though, my concerns about Garret’s plate disciple were alleviated. The 6-2 outfielder can get better at recognizing breaking balls, but he is very advanced at the plate for a 19-year-old. More than a few times, Yankee pitchers attempted to throw the Texan off-speed early in the count. Stone let the sliders and curveballs out of the zone go by, got ahead in the count, and waited for a fastball he could hammer. And during one at-bat, when a Yankee threw Stone a slider in a 2-1 count, he was still able to poke it out into left field for a base hit.
Maybe the most formidable part of Stone’s game is his power. But it not just the distance that Stone can slug the ball that is impressive. He seems to have an innate ability to drive the ball with authority, whether that results in a home run, line drive, or even a ground ball. Every ball is hit hard. The ball just flies off his bat. Part of that is due to Stone’s powerful forearms and strong legs. He swings at a slight upward angle, which projects well for his future home run totals, but Stone does not fall into the uppercut trap and try to hit home runs every time he steps to the plate. Given his quick bat, natural strength, and loft in his swing, I would grade Garrett’s power at a 55 future value.
However, that 55 plays up to a 60 because of Stone’s proclivity for making his power felt outside of just home runs and doubles. He will probably hover around the mid-teens to twenties marks in home run totals with a lot of doubles as a major leaguer. I could see him potentially hitting 25-30 home runs in his prime.
This year, Stone has 20 extra-base-hits in just 35 games. Last year he had only four extra-base-hits in 40 games. Where did all this power come from that wasn’t here last season? Here's what the youngster had to say.
You look at the stats from last year and then this year, there’s a big difference in the power and that just comes from staying in my legs. Staying in my legs on offense is what we have worked on the most this year. Last year it was pretty bad. Because when I don’t stay in my legs, my swing path changes. I went through that playing in Williamsport and Aberdeen, that series I had quite a few strikeouts (12 strikeouts in 21 at-bats, to be exact). Staying in my legs helps me make solid contact consistently.
Stone’s projection of thirty steals might be a little high. But make no mistake, this kid can fly. He takes short, quick, and low strides. He stole a bag in the second game I watched and it was not very close at second base. He is also a head-ups base-runner. Down by one run and on second base, he scored the tying run when the second baseman bobbled a grounder and then threw late to first. 60-70 grade speed here.
Last year, Garrett split time between left and right. This year, he has started all of his games in center, and he looks to me like he could stick there long-term. He gets excellent reads on balls in the gap and makes the hard play look smooth and easy with his speed. I do have some questions about his arm. But I think it is still good enough for center. At worst, he’s a plus-defensive left fielder.
It may just be due to the fact that Stone is the best player on the roster, but at 19, he is the clear leader of this ball-club. He jokes around and keeps everyone loose. However, as mentioned earlier, he also was the first one to hit in BP and was the last one to finish his workouts before the game. Here’s what Garrett had to say about his role on the team.
I don’t lead vocally, but on the playing field. Making the plays when the team really needs it, when we’re behind getting the runner in, that’s what I do. Leading by example.
I am very excited about Stone’s potential. He looks like the type of hitter who could slot into the number two hole and produce. He should get on base at a good clip, swipe 20-25 bases and could have more steals if he was more aggressive, hit 15-25 home runs a year, and hold his own in the field.
I also like Garrett’s confidence. He is not arrogant, just very secure that he can and will become a major leaguer. That confidence will be an asset when Stone inevitably struggles at some point during his career. Of course, Garrett must prove his worth against the better pitching of the minors. But, as rare as right-handed power bats are these days, he is certainly a prospect to watch in the Marlins farm system.
Three interesting tidbits to finish up the article: in our interview, Stone compared his game to a combination of Jay Bruce and Michael Bourn.
"Stone" is actually his middle name. His Dad was called "Rock" because he played football with older kids, and a form of that nickname was passed down to the son. Garrett’s first name is Gregory.
When I asked what has been the biggest reason for his success this year after a poor debut year in pro ball, Stone said:
I finally got rest. Last year, I came off a lengthy High School season, we played around fifty to sixty games, and then another 60 on top of that. I was not quite ready for that. Over the off-season I did some good training, we got my body ready for the season. I haven’t been tired this whole season.