GARFIELD HOPING FOR PLAYOFF RETURN IN 2014
Most baseball folks will agree that one of the toughest positions to develop quality prospects at is the catcher position. But the Milwaukee Brewers have managed to not only develop a quality starter in Jonathan Lucroy, they also have the luxury of a dependable backup in Martin Maldonado. Before long, they may have another home grown backstop behind the plate, as 22-year-old Cameron Garfield appears poised for a breakout season.
Milwaukee selected Garfield in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft and he made his debut that same season, playing 59 games for Helena before moving to Class-A Wisconsin as a 19-year-old in 2010. Garfield appeared in 102 games for the Timber Rattlers in 2010 but lost almost all of his 2011 and a portion of his 2012 season due to injury.
In late May of 2012, Garfield re-joined the Timber Rattlers, and helped lead the team to a Midwest League Championship, batting .298 with 11 home runs and 18 doubles in 66 games. That earned Garfield a promotion to High-A Brevard County in 2013, where he hit .250 with 8 home runs as the Manatees regular catcher.
With only a week remaining until the minor league seasons get underway, Garfield has been enjoying camp and working to improve on last year’s performance.
“It’s been going really well” he said. “I couldn’t really focus on one thing I’ve been working on defensively or offensively, but I’ve been trying to just improve my whole game as far as receiving pitches, blocking pitches, throwing runners out and trying to cut down the strikeouts a little bit. Trying to battle a little more. Go up there with a gameplan and stick with it.”
So far that focus has been paying off for Garfield, who has been tearing the cover off the ball this spring. And while spring stats are unofficial, Garfield’s defense has stood out as well, as he has gunned down seven of eight runners who have tried to steal on him and picked off several others.
His Spring Training also included the added bonus of an invite to Major League camp. It was an experience that Garfield truly enjoyed.
“It was amazing” he said. “When you’re going over there you see all those guys and how they go about their business and it’s really cool to pick their minds and see how they approach every day. I think I learned more on the mental side than the actual talent and physical side of baseball, so it was really nice getting to see that.”
Even after putting together a solid season in 2103, Garfield thinks he can do better and wants to make sure he sticks with what has made him successful in the past.
“I think two years ago I stuck with my approach a little more” he said, “bought in to it with the process and it started paying off. I wasn’t trying to do too much, get in to good counts and really just try to put the ball in to play more and the power numbers started rising.”
“Last year I think I deviated from that a little bit. I think they were actually down from what I could have done. But, you know, you can learn some stuff from that when you kind of have a down year from what you think you would. So I learned from that and this year I’m trying to go out there and just help the team win anyway I can. Stay consistent to my approach, don’t deviate from that.”
As for his goals for the upcoming season, Garfield is all about his team’s success and wants to repeat the playoff magic of 2012.
“I really, really want a winning season. I really want to go to the playoffs with this team. No matter if I get called up halfway, before or after, whatever it may be, I want to go out there every at bat and look to help the team win.”
It appears that despite his monster spring, the Brewers intend to have Garfield start the 2014 season back at Brevard County. But if he continues to show the progress he’s displayed this spring, it shouldn’t be too long before he finds his way to Double-A Huntsville and in to Milwaukee’s long-term plans.
The Brewers fell to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday afternoon by a score of 10-3. Yovani Gallardo took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits in two innings. From the minor league side, Mitch Haniger, Tyrone Taylor, Michael Reed, Nick Ramirez, Elian Herrera, Pete Orr, Lucas May and Jose De La Torre all saw action for Milwaukee. Haniger went 2-for-2 with a home run and two RBI for the Brewers. Tyrone Taylor chipped in a double in his one at bat and Nick Ramirez contributed a base hit as well.
On Thursday the Brewers affiliates will take on the Colorado Rockies for the only time this spring. The Nashville Sounds will play the Colorado Spring Sky Sox and the Huntsville Stars take on the Tulsa Drillers. Both games will be played at Maryvale Baseball Park. Brevard County and Wisconsin will make the trip to Salt River Fields to play the Modesto Nuts and the Ashville Tourists.