Kyle Garlick: A Dodgers Prospect Embraces Opportunity

His season is over and Kyle Garlick is headed home. Like most minor leaguers, the 24-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers outfield prospect will spend his offseason working. He has a pair of part-time jobs lined up, which will help him make ends meet until spring training rolls around. He’ll then resume his underdog quest to make it to the big leagues.

He’s already exceeded expectations. A 28th-round senior sign in 2015 out of Cal Poly Pomona, Garlick dominated A-ball last year, putting up a .987 OPS between multiple stops. This season he slashed .293/.348/.508, with 42 doubles and 19 home runs, between Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa.

As recently as two years ago the one-time Oregon Duck was uncertain about his baseball future. An injury, followed by a family health issue, preceded a season in which he put up mediocre numbers and was subsequently bypassed in the 2014 amateur draft.

Garlick talked about the challenges he’s overcome — and the ones still in front of him — prior to suiting up for the final game of his 2016 season.

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Garlick on what it’s like to have the minor-league season end: “A couple of weeks ago I would have told you I was really excited. This being my first full season, my body wasn’t feeling too great. I was drained, both physically and mentally. But now that the last game of the year is here, I’m actually feeling kind of sad. I don’t really want it to end. I love playing this game and I’m going to miss is it over the next five months or so.

“I’ll be working a couple of jobs over the offseason. I bar-back at my girlfriend’s parents’ restaurant on the weekends. During the week I’ll work for my buddy’s dad’s company. He owns a construction business and I’ll work there half days. I’ll also lift, hit, and throw whenever I can. Once it gets closer to spring training I’ll pretty much stop working and get myself into baseball shape.

“I got my degree at Oregon, in General Social Science, so I’ll have that to fall back on if baseball doesn’t work out. But right now, it doesn’t really do me much good. I don’t think anybody is going to want to me for three, four months at a time. That leaves me to work a couple of part-time jobs to keep myself afloat.”

On his baseball career going forward: “I’ve spent my whole life playing this game, so I’m going to keep playing it for as long as I can. I feel like I owe myself that. I think I have what it takes to make it to the big leagues. The question is always, ‘How long?’ You have to keep developing as a player and I’ve only been around it — in pro ball — for about a year and a half. I’m still learning about the professional system, so to speak.

“To be honest, I went into my last season of college thinking, ‘This could possibly be it.’ I didn’t get drafted my fourth year at Oregon, so I kind of went in thinking if I get an opportunity to play pro ball, great. If not, I’d have to start my life.”

On his path to professional baseball: “I got injured my junior year at the University of Oregon and sat out that season. I then got ready to go into my redshirt junior year, expecting to have a big season and get drafted reasonably high, possibly in the top 10 rounds. Right before the season started, I got the news that my mom had breast cancer. That was a little curveball that I had to deal with.

“I ended up not having the season I wanted. I didn’t even get drafted. I thought I was going to get a shot, and I didn’t. I’d graduated, so rather than stay at Oregon, I decided to go closer to home for my last year of eligibility. I chose Pomona to be with my mom. She’s good now. Fortunately, she’s been cancer free for over a year now.”

On how he feels about his 2016 season: “I feel great. I feel like I had a really good season. I ended where I wanted to end, in Double-A. That was my goal this year. Hopefully next year I can keep developing as a baseball player and make it to Triple-A, or possibly even the big leagues. Who knows?

“Have I had more success [in pro ball] than I expected? Yeah, definitely. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was never really a power hitter, in my whole life. I considered myself a gap-to-gap hitter, but now that the power has developed, I kind of categorize myself as more of a power guy now. I had a lot of doubles and home runs this year, and while I don’t see myself hitting 30-40 home runs, I can see 20-25.

“I kind of think I have to do that to make it to the big leagues. A lot of guys don’t like saying [that they see themselves as a power hitter]. I think you have to embrace it. Every organization likes guys who can drive the ball and hit it over the fence. That’s the way it is.”

On being an underdog: “I kind of play with a little chip on my shoulder. I try not to be arrogant or cocky in any way, but at the same time, you have to play with confidence. If you don’t, this game will eat you alive. If you don’t play with a chip on your shoulder… even if you’re faking it, you have to tell yourself that’s your mindset.

“I’m hoping to prove everybody wrong. I was a late-round pick. People kind of voted me out, so I want to prove all the doubters wrong by getting to the big leagues and help the Dodgers win. Even if I don’t, I know my parents are proud of me. They tell me that all the time.”

We hoped you liked reading Kyle Garlick: A Dodgers Prospect Embraces Opportunity by David Laurila!

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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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The Dude Abides
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The Dude Abides

I’ve been following Kyle’s progress, as I do with all of the Dodger prospects. Struggled a little bit his first week or two in AA, but then raked ever since. I do expect him to make it to the show. He might want to practice taking grounders and throws at 1B, as a lot of orgs (especially the Dodgers) value defensive versatility.

tim.glaser
Member
Member
tim.glaser

Hard to imagine him passing up Bellinger on the depth chart for 1B, but maybe if next year goes well for him he would be valuable in trade to another organization. Really nice story though. You can’t help but root for the guy.

The Dude Abides
Member
The Dude Abides

Yeah, meant more as having the ability to play 1B in his tool kit. It’s why the Dodgers have had Segedin, Dickson, and Bellinger play some games in the outfield in AA/AAA. Easier to plug guys like that onto the major league active roster when the inevitable injury to a regular occurs.

nenright
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Member
nenright

I kinda think Bellinger in the OF is due to him having great range. He was already familiar to the position before becoming a pro player. Not sure they’re trying to give him positional versatility, just using him there because he’s actually good there.

Side note, I’m so excited for Bellinger

The Dude Abides
Member
The Dude Abides

Me too, and it’s great to see A-Gone perk up again. Hopefully it will be a seamless transition after 2018.