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Cleveland MLB team reportedly considering name change

Other Baseball Today, 08:38 AM
This is an AP article I lifted from the StarTribune web site.   https://www.startrib...sure/571623572/
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Take Landis Name off the MVP Award

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Barry Larkin, former MVP, has been calling for removing the Kenesaw Mountain Landis name from MVP awards.Personally, until I read the art...
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Virtual Twins Baseball Megathread

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Moving forward this will house every game-thread in the comments below until real baseball hopefully comes back. I should have done this...
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Twins remove Calvin Griffith statue

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because TEAR EVERYTHING DOWN!
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Neal: Twins Radio Broadcast Team Will Not Travel

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https://www.startrib...ason/571529672/   LaVelle Neal also wrote that the Twins radio broadcast crew (including Cory Provus and Dan...
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Get to Know: Twins Outfield Prospect Willie Joe Garry, Jr.

After the Minnesota Twins made him their ninth-round pick in the 2018 draft, Willie Joe Garry Jr. struggled in his professional debut. Since then, he’s literally been one of the first to the ballpark and his work started to pay off for him in 2019. After another offseason of work, he hopes to take his game to another level in 2020.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
Willie Joe Garry, Jr. grew up in Pascagoula, Mississippi. It is a city right on the Gulf of Mexico with about 23,000 people. It is just east of Biloxi.

It was there that Garry grew to love the game of baseball. He tried playing other sports.

Following a practice this past weekend, he said, “I played football when I was younger. I was alright. Basketball? I was not good at all.”

But even in baseball, it wasn’t obvious that he would eventually become a professional ball player. Pascagoula High School is now a 6A school after spending years as a 5A school. As a freshman, he was unable to play because of a knee injury.

His sophomore season, he was still quite small. He said that he was about 5-2 and just 130 pounds. ‘I pitched though. I was a pretty good pitcher. I threw pretty hard for my size.“

He started growing some, and as a junior, he started the season as the team’s center fielder.

“I got into a slump so I got snatched out of the lineup. Went to right field. Still slumped, so I got benched. ”

From that point forward, however, things have been on the rise, including Garry’s prospect status.

“I came back in the playoffs and got hot.”

Then as a senior, he was the team’s starting center fielder all season.

He had committed to playing baseball at local community college Pearl River, but when the Twins selected him in the ninth round, it wasn’t a real difficult decision for him to sign.

“It was something me and my parents had talked about prior (to the draft). We talked about it once we got the call. It wasn’t really tough because I really wanted to play professional baseball. I knew I would be able to grow and build, and if I could start out earlier, that would be better. Coming in young, I felt like that would be an advantage for me. Being a young guy. Being around the older guys. Being on the same workout plan as them, but starting out earlier. That was our key point. That’s what made it a little earlier too.”

While Mississippi isn’t the noted baseball hotbed in the same way that Georgia preps are, Garry came from a strong class.

“The competition in Mississippi is … JT Ginn (1st round, Dodgers). Joe Gray (2nd round, Brewers). Konnor Pilkington (3rd round, White Sox). Dexter Jordan (16th round, Astros). A bunch of guys drafted from that same class. I felt the competition was pretty good. We never really faced any… you had a couple of teams that didn’t have too many guys. Usually when our team played a team, we saw their #1 guy, and I feel like that helped a lot.”

Willie Joe Garry, Jr. was the Twins ninth round pick in 2018. One other Mississippi player drafted that year was Regi Grace, a right-handed pitcher that the Twins took in the tenth round.

“I’d heard about him. I was in 5A. They were in 6A. My school went to 6A. We never played with or against each other until the summer going into the draft. We ended up playing together.” He continued, “We got SnapChat. We started texting. We just started hanging out a bit.Then we got here. We started getting a close bond. Then ninth round,10th round. We had the same flight up to Minnesota when we got drafted. Then we became roommates. Now we’re really good friends. Still roommates right now.”

That first season in the GCL after he signed was a rough one for Garry. In 33 games, he hit just .160 with four doubles. He had 28 strikeouts in 95 plate appearances and felt almost over-matched.

“I feel like I’m still growing, still getting stronger and stronger every day. From the first year, not really showing any power, really not making much contact. So that’s what I was working on in that offseason, making contact, hard contact. It was good to see the work from the offseason transfer into the season.”

When the season finished, he went to work. Garry, Jr and Grace were among the first players to arrive at the Twins minor league academy just days after the calendar turned to 2019.

“The transition from the year before to last year was really good. It was something I worked on, like catching the balls up front because I was getting blown up by fastballs throughout the whole season my first year. So working on that velo, catching up to that velo. And then to see it work out in-game the very next season, that was really good for me. I needed that. I built a lot of confidence, so then I could put a little extra on my swing. Started putting a few out. Start getting some extra base hits. Stopped worrying about swinging through balls. Just play. That’s what I went back to.”

In 55 games with the Elizabethton Twins, he hit .228 with six doubles, three triples and five home runs. There is still room for improvement, of course, but Garry took major strides in 2019. The goal is to keep that momentum going into 2020.

At Elizabethton, he had the opportunity to play for manager Ray Smith who has spent the past 34 seasons with that team, including 27 of them as manager. He was drafted by and spent parts of three seasons with the Twins in the early ‘80s. E-Twins hitting coach Jeff Reed was a first-round pick with the Twins, got traded and spent 17 seasons in the big leagues. That’s a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge.

“So much knowledge. I learned so much. Not even from drills and things, just from listening to them. Sometimes I wasn’t even in the conversation. Just standing to the side listening to them, the things they were saying. I tried to put some of those things into my game because they coached Buxton and all these guys. They go way back. Listening to them, taking the things that they say and trying to put them into my game helped a lot too. Not even the physical things, but the mental parts. The approach after a strikeout, things like that. Coming in knowing you can take your walks. Not trying to do too much.”

So again, he and Regi made that early January trek to Ft. Myers to keep working. ““I feel it paid off last year so we did it again.”

That work began in the weight room.

“A lot of my effort, early in the morning has been to gain weight in the weight room. Still trying to gain weight.” Garry, Jr. continued, “175 last year. I’m up to 189, cracking 190. I hit 190, I’ll start rocking some Double-XL shirts.”.

Posted Image

It’s all part of the process for the kids drafted out of high school or internationally. They have to mature physically and mentally.

So, what does he consider his strengths on the baseball field?

“I feel like even though I’m small, strength is a part of my game. I feel like I have a plus arm. I’m working on power. Consistency. I can show some flashes of power. I can go oppo if I need to. I can to do center or right.So I’m trying to get that consistency.

Being able to use the entire field is something that he thinks is important.

“I don’t want to cut off one side of the field. Get those doubles on the left side. Get those doubles on the right side. Maybe let a couple fly on the right side. Doesn’t matter how far or what side of the field.”

As for goals for 2020? They’re never too far from Garry’s mind, or his eyes.

“They’re on the screen saver of my phone. I look at them every day.”

Better utilizing his speed is one area that he would like to work on.

“I really want to move around the base paths this year. Stolen bases. Turning those singles into doubles by stolen bases, reading dirt balls. Show a little more power. But really I want to keep learning and take my game to the next level.”

Where will that happen? There is a chance that he will return to the E-Twins, but it’s also possible that he gets an opportunity to start the season in Cedar Rapids. If that is the case, he will need to continue to make adjustments, this time while adjusting to the cold temperatures of the MIdwest League in April. That said, if his ultimate goal is to reach the big leagues and play at Target Field, acclimating to the temperatures will be a must.

When I saw Willie Joe Garry one year ago in Twins minor league camp, he stood out to me as one to watch.His athleticism was impressive. He had good speed. He was thin, but he had some pop. And, I had heard about his work ethic. And again, he is one of the players this spring that has stood out to me again as one to watch.

  • scottz, Monkeypaws, Dman and 5 others like this

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8 Comments

He refers to himself as being small, Seth?Sure looks like a stud in that photo.

 

Hopefully, this is the year he takes that big jump in his game.

 

Isn't Pasgagoula the city where they build a lot of the big ships, aircraft carriers, ets?I know it is the home port for a NOAA research vessel. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

Thanks Seth. He has a great baseball name, and it sounds like he has a great work ethic. I think one of the hardest transitions to professional sports is learning how to work hard. The players today have access to so much to improve their game it can be overwhelming. I love the experience of our coaches in the lower minors and their ability to help the young guys. Go Twins.

    • glunn and MN_ExPat like this

Sounds like a really thoughtful guy.Good luck to him!

    • glunn likes this

I've been following this kid for the last couple years.  

 

Agree with Ace, he has the best baseball name since Willie Mays Hayes, and a heck of a good head on his shoulders, too. He sounds so optimistic and hard-working, and I have high hopes for him!

 

Hey, has he been adopt-a-prospected yet?

    • glunn and MN_ExPat like this

I met Willie Joe when he was in Pensacola for the Twins Caravan. He was called at his home the morning of the event to substitute for another player who missed his connecting flight and wouldn't make it in time. Pascagoula, MS is a 1.5 hour drive down I-10 and so Willie Joe jumped in his car and drove to the Caravan. What a very nice young man. I don't know about his baseball playing yet, but his work ethic and personality are 5-stars in my book. I hope to see him in Pensacola very soon.

    • Seth Stohs, glunn, wavedog and 4 others like this
Photo
Tom Froemming
Mar 04 2020 07:36 PM

I included a bit of video of Garry Jr. in this video, starting around the 3:20 mark.

 

    • Seth Stohs likes this

 

  I hope to see him in Pensacola very soon.

 

Me too. But even more, I bet he's dreaming about playing in Pensacola too.Can you imagine what fun it would be for a young guy to be able to easily have his family and friends caravan down the road to watch you play?

    • Seth Stohs, Sconnie, David HK and 1 other like this

Me too. But even more, I bet he's dreaming about playing in Pensacola too. Can you imagine what fun it would be for a young guy to be able to easily have his family and friends caravan down the road to watch you play?

it’s 100 miles, he could almost live at home and commute
    • Jimv likes this

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