Prospect Q&A: Brewers Catcher Garfield On Getting Healthy and Getting Even
You probably don’t know who Cameron Garfield is. And it would be hard to blame you. Garfield, the Milwaukee Brewers’ second round draftee in 2009 has seen his star as a prospect dim thanks to 2011 and ’12 campaigns interrupted by injury. He is not among the Crew’s Top 20 prospects presently, and he was surpassed in status by the club’s June drafting of Clint Coulter — like Garfield was four years ago, a high school catcher with a potential impact bat.
“For me, it’s not really where I am ranked or anything like that. I want to be a prospect in the organization’s eyes,” Garfield told me over the phone this afternoon from his training hub in California. “I want to impose the decision on them, you know, ‘We have to move this kid up, he’s playing really well.’”
So here is why you should start to get to know Garfield (@CAMgGARFIELD): In 66 games at Class A Wisconsin last year, the now-21-year-old posted a .298/.385/.524 slash line (or in OPS-speak, .910). I thought he might be worth chatting with in advance of 2013, or potentially his first healthy season in three years.
Me: How has the offseason been?
Garfield: Good, really good. My main focus was getting my leg back into shape from my surgery [in 2011]. Taking time to cover and rehab. I’m now at the point where everything is healed up and just getting the strength back to get it equal to my right leg.
Me: Take us through if you would how it happened…
Garfield: The injury happened early in the 2011 season. I originally dislocate the kneecap and it didn’t require surgery. Went through the whole rehab process and at six months — with catchers, it takes a little longer — and the rehab went good. One of my last rehab games, it was just a freak accident where I walked on a ball and re-injured it. It took me halfway into the 2012 season and recovered fine. Now I’m still building that strength.
Me: What’s your workout routine like now?
Garfield: In years past, I was more worried about getting stronger, building more muscle mass. Even though that plan went great, I don’t think my body was used to carrying the extra muscle mass. This offseason, I am trying to stay leaner a little more quality, a little lighter so it’s not as taxing on my knees. I’m doing agilities, sprints and a lot of plyometrics.
Me: With some time to reflect now, how do you evaluate your 2012 campaign?
Garfield: I’m really happy about how the 2012 season went. I think it was just a couple more years of maturity. I approached the game a little different. I wasn’t trying to do too much at the plate and really just taking each game by game and giving full effort. It paid in my favor.
Me: Looking at the numbers, was there also a physical change that was key to your uptick in offensive production?
Garfield: In years past, for me, I was trying to put up the power numbers instead of just going to the plate, having an approach and going with it. I was swinging a lot easier, looking for something I can handle. The numbers came.
Me: How would you describe your approach at the plate – what do you like to accomplish specifically in terms of mechanics to give yourself a chance to make solid contact?
Garfield: Mechanically, I have a pretty simple stance. I’m a little wider than usual. My main thing is getting in a good hitting position before the pitcher releases the ball. You look before the game, who you’re facing and what he likes to throw in certain counts. You have a game plan, so if you’re looking for a fastball middle-out, middle-in, you sit on that pitch until you get it because if he doesn’t give it to you, you still have seen all his other pitches. So in later at-bats, he’s not going to fool you all that much.
Me: How about your defense — how has it come along?
Garfield: My main focus this year is controlling the run game and controlling the pitchers, too. Their ERA is my ERA, and I want them to go out and have a quality start every time. If they have a good start and win the game, I can say I contributed to that. That’s my main goal.
Me: Has repeating the Class A level helped push your defensive game along, having watched all that baseball?
Garfield: Absolutely. You never want to sit on the bench, but one of the things I learned from being down and on the disabled list is that you watch a lot of baseball and get it from a different perspective. You definitely get a better view of it.
Me: Is there a catcher you model yourself after?
Garfield: I haven’t really pin-pointed one catcher in particular. You always look at the elite guys — Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina and Buster Posey — but I want to become me and take my game to a whole new level. I would like to classified in those ranks in the near future, but I’m just going to go out there in the near future and play my game, hopefully get me where I want to do.
Me: What’s not so good about playing in the Minors?
Garfield: The downside is everyday you’re in the Minors is a day you miss out in the big leagues.
Me: What do people not know about you yet?
Garfield: That’s I’m a 100 percent [effort] everyday. Whether an injury is nagging me, I am going to go out there and give it my all.