A reader tipped me off to Griff McGarry, and I said he walks too many. He insisted I look again, and I again said he walks too many. He told me to take another look, I did so, and I discovered something interesting…
- Born: June 8, 1999
- B/T: Right/Right
- 6’2″, 190-lbs
- Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft from University of Virginia
His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:
If you know me, you know my eye is immediately drawn to that crimson column of calamity centered on that chart. Oh sure, I like the strikeouts just fine, and even the K-BB% is great simply because the K% starts on the moon. The xFIP is fine, and the WHIP is mostly usable. But oh that red!
So that was my starting point. Let’s continue.
He struck out 43% of the lefties he faced, and walked 6%.
He struck out 40% of the righties he faced, and walked 15%.
Well, at least we see where the problem is. So what’s to keep him from becoming a lefty-killing bullpen weapon?
Breaking it down by month, he had a terrific April, followed by a walk-filled May, and now a June where the walks have started to come down. Is that progress?
So I went to the experts. First to BaseballHQ’s Minor League Baseball Analyst where it said this about McGarry:
High-octane arm who fixed college control problems in 2021. Mid-90s four-seam FB with excellent carry explodes on hitters; two-seamer runs down in the zone. Two distinct high-spin vertical breakers can miss bats but be inconsistent. CU showed flashes vs LHH. Command not pristine, but stuff undoubtably MLB quality. SP arsenal if he keeps BB at bay.
They said that he “fixed” his college control problems in 2021. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
And it says he has a starter’s arsenal. Let’s see it graphically:
Yes, three pitches are already average or better, and that fastball is already plus. That’s a starter if he can keep the walks down.
What do you say, FanGraphs:
Same story, he has the pitches, and they are of good quality, but the walks might doom him to the bullpen (a “MIRP,” a Middle Inning Relief Pitcher).
But then I noticed both BaseballHQ and FanGraphs said his command was really bad in college, and he improved in the pro game. Let’s see it:
Yes, there it is. We still see a crimson column, but the BB%, routinely in the 20+% range in college dropped 6% his first pro experience. Then in High-A it dropped another two percent, and this year repeating High-A it dropped another percent. He is walking about 10% fewer batters now than when he was in college. That is undeniable progress.
And since his strikeouts are so high, his K-BB% rate is now elite.
- Rotowire: #320 on their Top 400
- Fantrax: Not on their Top 400
- Fantasy Six Pack: #263 on their Fantasy Baseball Prospect Top 420
- Imaginary Brick Wall: Not on their Top 472
He hasn’t faced Double-A yet, and that will be an interesting test. If his walks continue to fall there, all the scouts will be interested.
It can be a trap to assume a linear progression in one direction will continue in that direction. It’s clear he has taken to pro scouting, but if that walk rate doesn’t continue to linearly progress, it’s the bullpen for McGarry.
Sometimes bad numbers hide good progress. I use color as a brain shortcut to cue me in on what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” But a single color can hide an improving trend. If even a single yellow box had appeared in the BB% column, I’d have been interested sooner. Instead it took a reader to nudge me to look closer.
This kid has good pitches in his arsenal, and he strikes out the world. It’s up to him which direction he will now take, but a major league career — one way or another — is open to him.