Rays Winter League Recap: Grayson Garvin Unhittable in First Start

By Robbie Knopf

The Arizona Fall League can turn into a multiplicity of different things depending on what players make of it. It can become the attempted continuation of a breakout year or the turnaround following a disastrous season. It can be the official start of a player’s career as a prospects or it can make sure the player’s career never gets off the ground. Tje Arizona Fall League can emerge as a turning point both in positive and negative lights. For Grayson Garvin, though, it’s pretty clear what direction he is going in.

Arizona Fall League: Salt River Rafters 12, Scottsdale Scorpions 2

The Rays used to only have one 6’6″ lefty out of Vanderbilt. The past couple of years, that has no longer been the case. Grayson Garvin was one of the Rays’ supplemental first round picks in the 2011 MLB Draft, but his career did not start off the nearly the way the Rays would have liked. He was up-and-down at High-A Charlotte in 2012 before requiring Tommy John Surgery. But Garvin impressed in the second half of 2013 after coming back and the Rays sent him to the Arizona Fall League for additional innings. It was going to be a challenge for Garvin as he would be a pitcher who had never pitched over High-A going up against mostly Double-A and Triple-A hitters. Well, at least they thought it would be a challenge. Getting the Rafters’ second start of the season, Garvin was unhittable, going 5 innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 5 while walking 1. It is only one start and Garvin still has plenty to prove, but Garvin is reminding everyone that despite Tommy John Surgery, he still has the talent that made him a first round pick and could be back on the fast-track to the major leagues before we know it.

Helping Garvin succeed was having a familiar face behind the plate: Stone Crabs teammate and the Rays’ best upper-levels catching prospect, Curt Casali. Casali helped Garvin get comfortable and also had a solid day at the plate, going 1 for 4 with 2 walks and a run scored. Richie Shaffer was also in Salt River’s lineup and he got his Arizona Fall League season off to a good start, going 2 for 4 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored. Granted, the Rafters did walk 13 times in this game, but plate discipline and pitch recognition were a big reason why Shaffer had a disappointing season at High-A Charlotte and it is good to see him working on that. Overall, dominant performance by Garvin and solid games from Shaffer and Casali as well made this a dream game for Rays prospects.