This week I interviewed Rangers pitcher Brennan Garr. Brennan has been in Frisco for the last couple of years, and I have gotten to know him there. He is a great guy and I would like to thank him for doing this interview for my blog.
Me: Can you please describe the whole experience of the Arizona Fall League and what that experience has been like so far?
Brennan: So far it has been a great experience. The part I have enjoyed the most is meeting different players from other organizations. A lot of the guys have been in the big leagues before so I have been really trying to pick their brains and learn as much as I can from them. Another thing I like is being able to wear the big league uniform and I feel proud to represent the Rangers.
Me: When you were in college, did you enjoy hitting or pitching more?
Brennan: That’s a tough question. I really enjoyed hitting in college because I was successful at it and I liked the feeling of hitting a home run, but when I got the chance to pitch, I liked that better because the game was always on the line and the feeling of striking someone out to end the game and get the save was it for me.
Me: Why do you think the Rangers chose to use you as a pitcher, even though you led Northern Colorado in batting average, hitting .346, and had 44 RBI’s in just 46 starts?
Brennan: I think they chose me because I had a lot more potential to be playing in the big leagues as a pitcher because I was very raw, only throwing, I think, 33 innings in my college career and my arm was very fresh.
Me: What did you change in your approach in 2007 after you had a 6.35 ERA in April, but then had a 1.29 ERA in May, a 2.38 ERA in June, and a 1.13 ERA in July of that year?
Brennan: Well, I was very fortunate to have Danny Clark as my pitching coach in Spokane my first year and then having him in 2007. When I struggled in April, we looked over some video and since he knows me and knows my mechanics very well he found something I was doing. We fixed it and made an adjustment. From then on I was locating my pitches, throwing strikes, and being confident.
Me: Were you excited to make the 2007 Midwest All-Star team or would you rather have had the off days?
Brennan: I was really excited about making the team. My parents flew out to see me throw and it was a good feeling knowing I had a good first half of the season and was rewarded by being able to go to the game. It was also cool meeting guys from other organizations and I still see a lot of those guys now when we’re playing each other.
Me: You’ve had a lot of success when pitching with runners in scoring position (for example you had a .150 batting average against with runners in scoring position in 2008). What do you do to change your approach with runners in scoring position that leads to this success?
Brennan: When I have runners on I have a different kind of focus that I can’t really explain. I get a little angry when runners are about to score on me and I feel like I have a lot more conviction with my pitches during that time. Also, having runners not score is a big thing for me as a reliever because it is an important part of my job when coming out of the pen.
Me: How disappointed were you to be put on the High-A team to start the ’09 season after pitching all of ’08 in Frisco?
Brennan: I was very disappointed, but I wanted to take advantage of what I could by being back in Bakersfield. I never got down or felt like I was getting messed around with by the organization. I got a lot out of pitching again in High-A. I was able to work on mechanics, throw pitches in counts that I normally wouldn’t and learned a whole lot more on how to pitch.
Me: Did you notice a difference between single-A and double-A hitters and, if so, what is it?
Brennan: I did notice a difference. I thought the 3-4-5 hitters were a lot better and all the hitters were a lot more patient. I really learned the importance of throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters.
Me: What meant more to you, being the D-1 MVP in both 2005 and 2006, being named Division-I First Team All-Independent, or being on the 2006 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for National Player of the Year? Why?
Brennan: Being on the Brooks Wallace Watch List was pretty exciting for me because I felt like it was hard to get recognized since I was from a smaller D-1 school. Also, when I got to pro ball and looked back at that list, there are some really good players on that list and I felt honored to be a part of that.
Me: What do you think has been your best professional game and why?
Brennan: There was a game in Spokane that I really remember. I remember it because I threw 4.1 innings and struck out like 9, I think, didn’t give up any runs, and at that time I was very young as a pitcher and I had never thrown that many innings before and still haven’t.
Me: Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?
Brennan: That’s a hard one because I have met so many good friends, but I’ll try to name three. Andrew Laughter, Beau Jones, and Chris Gradoville (I played with him one summer in college ball). My favorite Latin players are: Pedro Strop, Jumbo Diaz, and Kendy Batista
Me: Can you please rate each of the ballparks in the Rangers organization that youʼve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?
Brennan: Spokane – 8 - great atmosphere. Great place to start.
Clinton – 6 - the field was in great shape. The locker room was redone and huge. The town was terrible and smelled.
Bakersfield - 3 - Didn’t like the town, the field was in bad shape, no fans. Only good thing was the travel was easy.
Frisco - 9 - best field I have ever played in. There are a lot of fans. The city is great with a lot of things to do.
Me: What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?
Brennan: Being away from family and friends for so long.
Me: Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?
Brennan: Hank Conger- Played against him all the way up through the system. Hitter you have to be careful with.
Tommy Everidge - I played with him one summer college season, so we know each other, so it was always a cat and mouse game with him every at bat.
Eric Young Jr.-Tough hitter. Very hard to strike out. Very fast
Me: What was your favorite team growing up?
Brennan: Colorado Rockies. The Rockies were a new team in Denver while I was growing up, so I followed them closely. I loved watching the Blake Street Bombers. (Todd Walker, Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, and Vinny Castilla)
Me: What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?
Brennan: Besides baseball, I played basketball and was on the golf team in high school. I was better at golf.
Me: What is the worst injury you’ve had to deal with?
Brennan: I have been pretty fortunate with injuries. Nothing major. In college I tore my meniscus in my knee and had to have surgery, but was playing again in 4 weeks and it hasn’t bothered me since.
Me: What are your hobbies?
Brennan: In the off season I do a lot of small game, big game, and waterfowl hunting. I also do a lot of ice fishing in the mountains of Colorado. I still play golf also.
I would like to thank Brennan again. It was very nice of him to take his time while he’s in Arizona for the Arizona Fall League to do this for me.
Come back next week for a free agent special.