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A mission set in Stone

Showcase : : Story
Jeff Dahn        
Published: Thursday, December 29, 2011

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The 400-plus prospects who are here at the Boston Red Sox Player Development 5-Plex this week for the Perfect Game National Underclass Showcase-Main Event wear all fashions of stripes. Their heights and weights vary, their backgrounds are diverse and they come armed with different goals and expectations.

Almost all of the participants are sophomores and juniors in high school (although there are a handful of freshmen) and some have already compiled a hefty list of credentials. Perfect Game has many of them ranked in the top 50 of their respective high school class and quite a few – usually the juniors – have already made a verbal commitment to a NCAA Division I university.

Others sit on the opposite end of the spectrum. These are the kids – usually the sophomores – who are longing to be noticed and have made the PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event their first foray into the world of Perfect Game events.

You can count Sugarland, Texas, outfielder Stone Garrett in that latter group. A class of 2014 sophomore at George Ranch High School, he was in southwest Florida this week trying to prove he deserves to be considered a top-tier guy in his graduating class.

He came out raring to go on Wednesday with the start of the individual workout sessions. A 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed hitter and thrower, Garrett ran a 6.72-second 60-yard dash – one of only 10 participants to run that fast – and recorded an outfield velocity throw of 85 mph, ranking 12th among the participants. He also performed well during his batting practice session.

“This is my first Perfect Game (event) and I didn’t know what to expect so I was kind of nervous, but it was all right,” Garrett said Thursday morning. “We did batting practice and I did good in that, and when we did throwing my hands were kind of cold but I got through it.”

At the conclusion of his BP session, a PG scout noted “Garrett has a smooth, easy, extended swing with present bat speed, and the ball really carries off the bat. A bit better rhythm and added strength and Garrett could have the highest ceiling of any hitter who worked out today.”

After his outfield throw session, a PG scout wrote “Garrett is a good athlete with quick feet and a smooth approach to the ball. He has good overall tools with clean arm action.”

If Garrett’s mission was to get noticed, he most certainly got it accomplished.

Sixteen-year-old Stone Garrett made the trip here from Texas with his father, Greg. Greg Garrett was instrumental in persuading his son this was the path he should take.

“We’ve heard from a lot of good players and their parents that Perfect Game has some of the best talent and we wanted to come down here and compete against the best talent,” Greg Garrett said.  “He’s done very well against local competition and state competition but we really wanted to see the national and international players that come down here.

“Our real motivation for coming down here was to play against the best and he’s done fairly well against the best, so I think we’ll go back home and continue to improve and come back and do this again.”

After the completion of games Thursday afternoon, Stone learned he will play in one of at least three Top Prospect Games Friday morning. He came into his first Perfect Game event with high expectations and then easily met – perhaps even exceeded – them.

“I wanted to get my name out there and get some exposure, and check my arm speed out and everything like that,” Stone said. “I wanted to get on base so I can steal some bases and expose my speed and get some balls hit to me in the outfield so I can show my range.

“My dad said I needed to get some exposure because I was just playing local in my area. I had to get out there and compare myself to other people nationwide.”

Stone Garrett visits a personal trainer in an effort to keep his body in tip-top shape and sees a Houston-area hitting instructor, Dennis Carter, for personalized instruction.

“We invest a lot in him, and if we’re going to invest that much in him I think we have to invest in him coming to the best tournaments with the best players. That’s why we’re down here,” Greg said. “We’ve played on the local and state levels but we really have to get down to these Perfect Games.

“We’ve been looking in the brochures and seeing what the best tournaments are to come to – some of them can get a little expensive if you come every month – but we’re going to at least try to hit three or four of them this summer and play against the best talent they have.”

Stone currently plays for a travel team called the Columbia Angels, a highly regarded outfit that mostly limits its travels to within the Texas borders, according to the Garretts. Stone said he may be playing for someone else next summer.

“My dad just told me I might be traveling by myself sometimes, getting to the East Coast and the West Coast,” Stone said with a smile. “I’d also like to get on a bigger travel team.”

So just how big of a deal was this showcase to the younger Garrett? Such a big deal, his father said, he could barely sleep.

“Normally he sleeps in late, but he woke up early this morning saying, ‘Hey, let’s get over to the field,’” Greg said. “I’m and ex-Navy guy and I get up at 5 (a.m.) and today he’s up at 5 saying, ‘Can we go over the field,’ and I said, ‘No, they ain’t even over there yet.’ That’s when it hit me that he was real excited about being here because he ain’t the one to get up early.

“This has been a great experience,” Greg concluded. “It’s really helping us out and it makes you want to come back and experience this again.”

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