Grayson Garvin, The Rays’ Forgotten First Round Pick

By Robbie Knopf

When the Rays’ 2011 first round pick, Taylor Guerrieri, underwent Tommy John Surgery, it was a heartbreaking moment for Rays prospect watchers. Guerrieri had utilized superb fastball command to go along with a developing curveball and changeup to dominate the Low-A level and looked like he was poised to zoom through the minor leagues to the Rays’ rotation. But while the Rays remain confident that Guerrieri will be a major part of their future, Guerrieri will be out until at least next July. His meteoric success to the major leagues has been halted and it will be a year before it will resume. But lost in the story is that Guerrieri wasn’t the only Rays first round pick from that draft to undergo Tommy John Surgery–Grayson Garvin, a supplemental first round pick at 59th overall went through it as well. And the surgery isn’t the only thing linking Guerrieri and Garvin–they’re both quite talented pitchers as well. But while Guerrieri’s surgery was lamented as putting a question mark on a promising career, Garvin flew completely under the radar and his surgery caused people to forget he even existed. Since coming back a few weeks ago, though, Garvin has reminded everyone just how good he can be.

David Price is a 6’6″, 220 lefty drafted out of Vanderbilt. Grayson Garvin is a 6’6″, 225 lefty drafted out of Vanderbilt, fitting nearly the exact same physical profile as Price. Garvin’s ability doesn’t rival Price–there’s certainly a reason why he was selected 58 picks later–but it is certainly conceivable that the Rays will lose Price only to have a fellow Vanderbilt alum fill his rotation spot before long. Garvin throws a low-90’s fastball that has touched as high as 95 MPH, and he does a great job commanding it to force weak contact on the ground. And Garvin actually has a chance for something that Price lacks: a plus changeup that can be throw to both righty and lefty batters. Garvin gets great arm action on his low-80’s changeup with flashes of great fade, and with more refinement on it he could be the next young Rays pitcher beating hitters with an overbearing changeup. His third pitch also parallels Price. Price came out of college with an inconsistent slider and switched to a curveball to try to get a more effective offering. Garvin has a slurvy breaking ball that he will look to refine as well. Garvin doesn’t have ace stuff, but he has the stuff to be a number three or number four starter and maybe even a number two if he improves his slider, and the Rays are excited to see him back on the mound and see what he becomes.

Garvin made his first rehab start from Tommy John Surgery on July 9th, allowing a run in just two-thirds of an inning. After five more starts totalling 11.1 innings, he finally earned a bump to High-A Charlotte on August 10th and went 2 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. He looked fine, but it was only setting the stage for what he would do in his next time out. On August 15th, Garvin went 3 perfect inning, striking out 4. Garvin is just making his way back. But even in the early stages of his recovery process, he’s showcasing exactly why the Rays were so excited to draft him, and promising things could be ahead when he arrives at Double-A next season.