Before talking about any specific player, please keep in mind how truly difficult it is to reach the MLB ranks, let alone be a quality player for a number of years. With that said, Milwaukee Brewers catching prospect Cameron Garfield won’t be making an impact at the big league level any time soon. Chances are, he’ll be lucky if he gets to enjoy much time in Milwaukee at all.
That’s not to say Garfield is hopeless or someone you shouldn’t keep your eye on, he just hasn’t been able to consistently show the skills and production that earned him a second round selection in the 2009 draft. Taken because of his offensive potential, the belief was that Garfield would be adequate behind the dish to make him a value player at a difficult position. Unfortunately for the 22 year old from Germany, he’s struggled to stay on the field and it has certainly affected his play.
In 2011, Garfield dislocated his kneecap. While it didn’t require surgery, there was a long rehab process that took longer because of the position he plays. Obviously, as a catcher squats most of the time, a full recovery and a return to effectiveness was difficult to attain. As he was rehabbing, he then hurt the knee again when he stepped on a ball, taking him until halfway through the 2012 campaign to get back. That’s when some of the promise began to come to fruition. In 66 games with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in single-A, Garfield hit .285, posted a .385 OBP and finished with a .910 OPS; that included 11 home runs and 18 doubles in his short season.
However, the 2013 season wasn’t so kind. With a move to high-A playing for the Brevard County Manatees, Garfield’s numbers took a nosedive. His OBP sunk more than 100 points to .280 and he showed no power throughout the season. In nearly twice as many games as the previous season, he hit three fewer homers and just two more doubles, as he produced only a .379 slugging percentage.
What that means exactly is tough to say. It could be that he was adjusting to the longer season at a grueling position while still feeling some effects of his knee injury. Of course, it could have just been “one of those years,” which does happen from time-to-time.
The biggest worry though, was that Garfield is more like his 2013 season than the 2012 one.
If he’s going to move up the ranks and knock on Miller Park’s door, Garfield has to hit at a solid clip. His defense is below average, so they won’t be promoting him based on that side of the ball. Garfield has a long throwing motion out of the crouch, which hurts his ability to throw out runners. Despite some improvements, he still has issues blocking balls on a consistent basis as well. Overall, he’s athletic behind the plate, but there are serious concerns about his legs breaking down quickly due to the knee injuries of the near past.
Then, when the Brewers drafted catcher Clint Coulter in the first round in 2012, Garfield was immediately pushed back a spot on the organizational depth chart. Coulter was projected out of high school to be a true impact player, boasting a good size and a cannon arm — two things Garfield lacks.
It hasn’t been determined what level Garfield will play at this season, but he has a tough road to hoe moving forward. The lack of quality at the catching position across the league means anyone wearing the tools of ignorance has a shot, no matter what his deficiency.
Garfield wouldn’t just be a long shot, he’d be a shot in the dark.