Florence, Ala., left-handed pitcher Braxton Garrett went 7-1 last season with a 0.75 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 66.2 innings. The Vanderbilt signee’s stock continued to soar in the off-season with a win in relief in the Perfect Game All-America Classic and good outings for USA Baseball’s U18 team at the World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup in September.
A lot of pitchers in Garrett’s shoes might take it easy their senior year, and shut things down to protect their arms and draft stock.
Instead, Garrett went 6-2 with a 0.56 ERA and 131 strikeouts and one no-hitter and only 13 walks in 65.1 innings. In April, he had one start where he threw 19 strikeouts and two others, including his final appearance, where he had 15 strikeouts. He also hit .394 with 34 RBI and helped lead Florence, coached by his father, Steve Garrett, to a 31-17 record and No. 4 ranking in the state.
“He has been on fire,” Steve Garrett said. “He just remained consistent. He was dominant last year with video game stats and he was just as dominant this year. His change-up has improved. He’s used it a lot more and developed it more. His three pitches (fastball, curve and change-up) are really good and he has a fourth pitch he doesn’t use because he doesn’t have to.”
Garrett is projected by many to be a late first-round selection and there were scouts at every game he pitched.
“I’m not going to say anything about the draft,” Steve Garrett said. “The only sure thing he has right now is Vanderbilt and we’re not going to deal in hypotheticals. He’s such a great teammate and a motivator of his teammate, there’s no jealousy.”
When Florence played in the National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C., he had an 11-strikeout four-hitter in a 2-0 defeat of Liberty Christian (Lynchburg, Va.) and hit a leadoff triple for what turned to be the winning run. A day later at the NHSI, bothered by food poisoning, he still managed to drive in the winning run in a 5-4 defeat of The First Academy (Orlando).
“He’s been on the big stage in Taiwan and Japan and he’s been in front of huge crowds and huge numbers of scouts and it’s a testament to him that it never bothers him,” Garrett said.