It’s always nice to draft locals in the draft. It’s even better when they can really pitch and potentially make a big league impact.
Ryan Garton is a little 5’11″, 170 right-hander born in Clearwater, Florida who is currently a senior at Florida Atlantic University. This season, Garton was Florida Atlantic’s ace for the first time and turned in some nice numbers. A converted middle infielder, Garton went 9-3 with a 3.09 ERA, 84 strikeouts, 29 walks, and 10 homers allowed in 15 starts and 93.1 IP. It was just his second full season as a starting pitcher and he has made quite a bit of progress.
Garton throws in the just the high-80′s with his fastball with some nice run at times but not much sink and he’s somewhat homer prone. His fastball is far closer to average than plus. But he survives thanks to a devastating plus changeup. Garton makes it looks exactly like his fastball out of his hand before featuring outstanding late sink. And he also throws a solid curveball that has its moments. Garton has a deceptive delivery and a decent arsenal overall.
Garton turns 23 in September, but he has definite sleeper potential. He has the same three-pitch arsenal as Jeremy Hellickson with the changeup being the exclamation point. The difference is the other two pitches, the fastball and curveball. But regarding the fastball, Garton may have some projection remaining, and I think he might be able to get his fastball to the 89-90 MPH range, which would definitely be progress. Garton’s fastball command isn’t nearly as good as Hellickson but it’s still above-average. You can also rest assured that the Rays will teach Garton a cutter like they taught Hellickson. That leaves the curveball, and if they Rays can clean that up a little bit suddenly you have Jeremy Hellickson lite. Garton is just 5’11, 170, but Hellickson isn’t that much bigger at 6’1″, 190. Garton isn’t going to become an elite pitcher, but he has the ability to be a solid big league 4th or 5th starter, the type of pitcher who doesn’t dominate the vast majority of the time but is durable and puts together solid outings. In the 34th round, that would be a ridiculous value. A lot of things need to happen for Garton to reach that level. But he has that type of upside and the Rays somehow came away with another potential late round steal.