The Miami Marlins drafted outfielder Stone Garrett out of George Ranch High School in Sugar Land, Texas. He was selected in the eighth round, 227th overall. In high school, Garrett earned 2012 and 2013 Underclass First-Team honors. In his senior year, he was named Perfect Game First-Team All-American and Texas All-Region First Team. He began his professional career with the Gulf Coast League Marlins in 2014, hitting .236 in 40 games. He spent the following season in Batavia playing for the Muckdogs, the Marlins’ short-season Low-A team. He played in 58 games and hit .297/.352/.581 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs, earning awards from that league as well. Stone was nice enough to respond to a few questions for us, and here they are:
You’ve spent your two years as a professional baseball player playing for the Gulf Coast League Marlins and the New York-Penn League Batavia Muckdogs. Are you looking forward to playing full-season ball? What are the challenges you face playing on short-season teams?
I’m very excited for this upcoming year hoping to stay healthy in spring training and break camp with a full season team. Playing in the Gulf Coast league was a culture change going from high school to professional baseball where the age varies and everyone comes from a different background. The Gulf Coast League was a little harder transition than going into the Penn League being that I came straight from playing in high school playoffs and only had a week’s break before playing in my first GCL game. The only difference in my opinion between the GCL and the Penn League was the travel.
You showed huge improvement in every single category last season. What did you do differently that gave you such great results?
I would say my work ethic in the offseason could be described as dedicated and that rolled into the 2015 season. The first season when I was drafted was a little bit of a struggle being I had such a long high school season, I was already worn out by the time I had to play in forty more games in the Florida heat. Performance wise I worked day in and day out on staying in my legs throughout my swing, and the results speak for themselves.
You were named a midseason All-Star and a Baseball America Short-Season All-Star in 2015, along with winning MiLB.com’s NYP Player of the Month in August. How do those awards help motivate you to do even better in the coming season?
My biggest fear is complacency. Winning the awards are great but to me they mean nothing if I don’t want to be better than I was last year.
You were taken by the Marlins in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. Did you know the team was interested in you, or was it a complete surprise on draft day?
I knew they were interested, I honestly thought I was going to go higher and as the draft went on I was really stressed out. The draft was probably one of the worst days of my life because I felt so helpless, not many people know that. However, if I had the chance to go back and be picked higher I wouldn’t want that because being drafted in the eighth round lit a fire inside of me that makes me the player I am today. It makes me go out everyday and prove to scouts they messed up. I say that in the non-cockiest way possible.
You’ve already played all three outfield positions in your two years in the minors. Which spot do you feel most comfortable in? Has the team pushed you to learn one position over the other, or is it more about what falls into place on game day?
Growing up I had coaches put me in all three outfield positions, to me it really doesn’t matter. The Marlins organization hasn’t really told me “this is where you’ll be.”
I’ve read that you’re one of the hardest working guys on the team; you’re out hitting before everyone else and you stay later than anyone else. How do you think that kind of discipline has helped you get to where you are now and how much more will it help you in the future.
Hands down my work ethic in the offseason and in extended spring training made me the player I was in 2015. The major key is to not get too complacent with what I did last year, and work even harder this year.
Everyone makes projections about what kind of player every prospect will be if he reaches the majors. I’ve heard of you as “a number-two hitter with some pop” and “an above-average center fielder on a first-division team.” If given a chance to draft your own scouting report: what kind of player will you become at the Major League level?
I can’t say what I’ll become but I can tell you what I work to be, which is an everyday player who has a major impact on a successful playoff team.
You grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, and were committed to play your college ball at a great baseball school, Rice University, less than an hour away from home. Suddenly, you’re drafted by the Marlins and you’re playing on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico in Jupiter, Florida. What was it like to leave your home state and start your career as a professional baseball player?
It was everything I could ask for and more. Playing baseball everyday, no homework, no tests, the only responsibility I had was to show up to the field and become a better baseball player.
Did you have a favorite player growing up that you attempted to mold your game by watching?
Torii Hunter is who I try and mold my game after. Who wouldn’t want to be in the league for 10+ years and have the success he had?
Coming into the draft, you were scouted to have amazing speed and a knack for stealing bases. Two years into your career, you’ve stolen a combined 12 bases and only attempted 18 steals. Is this due to concentrating on other parts of your game, a transition to facing better competition, or simply game-to-game decisions on the part of your coaches?
Honestly, I need to be more aggressive on the bases there’s nothing to it other than that.
Thank you so much for Stone for taking his time to respond to my questions. You can follow him on Twitter @StoneGarrett22 and keep an eye on him on a full season team this baseball season.