2022 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Garrett Farmer takes the ball in this episode of C’s Chat.
The 25 year-old from Huntsville, Alabama joined the Toronto Blue Jays organization by signing as a free agent April 12, just less than a month after being released by the Baltimore Orioles. Farmer was drafted by the O’s in the 25th round of the 2019 MLB draft out of Jacksonville State and received a $35,000 signing bonus.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound right-hander pitched for four seasons with the Gamecocks after attending Buckhorn High School in Alabama where he was teammates with Atlanta Braves hurler Kyle Wright, the fifth pick of the 2017 draft. Farmer spent his freshman season in 2016 mostly as a reliever where he earned two saves and split eight decisions, striking out 42 batters in 49-2/3 innings. He joined the Gamecocks rotation in the 2017 campaign and did not give up a home run, hit a batter or throw a wild pitch in his three starts. However, he wound up missing the rest of the year with an arm injury.
Farmer bounced back with a big 2018 campaign as he was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference 2nd Team after going 7-2 with a 3.90 earned run average and striking out 107 batters in 90 innings. In 2019, Farmer took things to the next level by winning the 2019 OVC Pitcher of the Year Award. He won five of seven decisions and posted a 110-16 K/BB total in 105-1/3 innings to go along with a 2.56 ERA.
After being drafted by the Orioles, Farmer reported to the Gulf Coast League Orioles that summer and made his professional debut with a shutout inning against the GCL Braves June 25. He lost his first two decisions but picked up three wins in the month of August. Farmer’s first win came with two shutout innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts against the GCL Pirates August 3. His second win came August 12 against the GCL Rays with two more scoreless frames but his best outing came against the GCL Twins where he allowed just one hit and struck out seven in three innings August 21. Farmer finished up that year with a 1.21 ERA by not allowing a run over 11 innings during the month of August in which he struck out 17 batters with zero walks.
After COVID wiped out minor league baseball in 2020, Farmer threw his next professional pitch in 2021 with the Aberdeen IronBirds ing the High-A East/South Atlantic League. He recorded his first professional save with two strikeouts over two shutout innings against the Wilmington Blue Rocks May 7. He finished the month of May with two saves and 9-1/3 shutout innings. Farmer had a tough June and July but got back on the beam in August with a 1.32 ERA. He finished the year with eight saves in nine opportunities and two holds to go along with a 3.71 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and a .246 opponents batting average.
Farmer’s organizational debut in the Blue Jays system came April 22 with the Canadians when he tossed a pair of perfect innings against the Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium. He also supplied another shutout frame against the Everett AquaSox at The Nat May 6.
C’s Plus Baseball caught up with Farmer recently to talk about his recent signing with the Blue Jays. The transcript has been edited for clarity.
C’s Plus Baseball – Let’s talk about first off how you wound up with the Blue Jays. You were with the Orioles and then you hook up with the Blue Jays. How did that all break down?
Garrett Farmer – It was quite fast actually. At the start of 2022, I was with the Orioles and I went to spring training with them. I did very well but there just wasn’t a roster spot for me at the end of it. And just with the business of baseball, I ended up getting released. And not even 48 hours later, I was a Blue Jay. It was a very fast and very exciting time for me and I’m very excited to be here.
CPB – Who made contact with you from the Blue Jays?
GF – Joe Sheehan did. He texted me. I was actually at my friend’s birthday party. I had gotten released on Friday. His birthday was on Saturday. I drove back home and we were celebrating his birthday. When I got the call, it was like I said, it was completely unexpected. And you know, I was thrilled.
CPB – Talk about your time with your Orioles. It seemed like you had a couple of decent (seasons) there, but as you said, it just kind of a numbers game. Talk about your time with Baltimore.
GF – I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot while I was there and I made a lot of good friends. I think I became more culturally diversified, just meeting more people from the West Coast and playing with teammates all over the place. You know, it’s really fun and I really enjoyed my time but you know, like I said, like you said, it’s a business, it’s a business, it just happens sometimes.
CPB – Talk about your draft day experience getting picked by the Orioles out of Jacksonville State. Were you following the draft or how did you find out?
GF – I was following the draft kind of hard. I was really hoping to get picked up on day two, but kind of fell short. So when day three started, I knew (I needed) to be in front of the computer screen. And when we got to round 20s, you know calls started coming in and the Orioles was the team.
CPB – Did you have any idea it was going to be the Orioles? Did you think maybe there was another team that maybe you might have gone to?
GF – I might have been getting sweet talks by a couple other teams, right? But you know, ultimately, the Orioles were the ones that picked me up in the 25th.
CPB – Talk about your time at Jacksonville State. How did that help you develop as a pitcher?
GF – More mentally than anything. I think going in there at such a young age, I went there at 18 just playing with older guys. It kind of gave you the mental edge to be a little more tougher on the mound. It definitely rounded me just to be a better overall pitcher, you know, just to trust my stuff, use my stuff to get soft contact and get outs.
CPB – Talk about your pitching repertoire. What is it that you throw?
GF – I throw fastball, change up, curveball and slider, and my pitching philosophy is just to stay over the plate. I like to force soft contact and pitch to the corners of the zone.
CPB – Is the fastball a four-seam, a two-seam or cutter. What do you throw?
GF – I throw a four-seam and it has a lot of ride to it as baseball players would say. So it kind of stays up in the zone a little more so I’m able to use it more up in the zone. And really throw some offspeed off of it.
CPB – What would you say is your next best pitch. Everyone always likes the fastball as number one but is there a favorite secondary pitch?
GF – The slider. I love it. I will live and die by that slider. It’s a pitch that I can trust in any count (whether it’s) 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2. Really when I’m trying to get the hitter off balance, I can really rely on that pitch.
CPB – Was there anyone who helped you develop this ladder? Did you learn that by yourself or is there somebody who maybe showed you a grip or something like that?
GF – It was kind of my first breaking ball that I really developed and it kind of just took off from there. You’re not really throwing big banger curveballs when you’re 13-14 years old. So I kind of learned this little slider and it just took off from there. Just with age, it developed and it became a really good pitch.
CPB – Who’s helped you develop as a pitcher growing up and throughout college? Who’s helped you out along the way?
GF – Just the people back at home. Jim Case, my head baseball coach. He also doubled as the pitching coach at Jacksonville State and he was good at the mental game. He really helped me trust my stuff. I think physical maturity really helped me just grow into a better pitcher too. I was really small going into college so really getting into the weight room and getting bigger really helped me add on that extra velo and just made me a dog on the mound.
It was just more mental than anything else and it gave me the reps I really needed. Sometimes you go into the game with a plan and you just need to see it execute before you really finally see it out and trust it. And that’s what I did at Jacksonville State. It gave me the innings to really become a comfortable pitcher on the mound and just be comfortable in any situation that I might be thrown in.
CPB – You’re from Huntsville AL but went to college in Florida. Is there a favorite major league team you have or anyone you followed?
GF – No, I kind of lived all over the place growing up. I lived a little bit in Michigan so we had a little stint where we were pulling for the Tigers. They were good when we lived there. When you’re from Alabama, everybody is a Braves fan. So I guess my family kind of follows the Braves a little more than most. But no, we’re birds. We call ourselves the “Bird Family”. My brother went to a bird college. I went to a bird college. I got drafted by the Orioles, was a bird and then now I’m with the Blue Jays so we call ourselves a family of birds.
CPB – Is there anyone maybe you would compare yourself to in the majors? Or is there a pitcher you really enjoy falling?
GF – Oh, I love Hendricks from the Cubs. I think he really competes with soft stuff. I think he kind of pitches like I do where he’s not looking excessively for Ks but he’s looking for good, soft contact and living in the zone and hitting corners of the zone.
CPB – How do you like pitching out of the bullpen so far?
GF – I really do enjoy it. You know, that was one thing that kind of changed for me when I went to pro ball is that the Orioles kind of put me in the pen as well, long relief, and I really enjoyed it. I just feel like you could come into any situation in the game is yours to finish, right? You know, as a starter, you kind of start the ball, get the ball rolling, but you don’t really ever get to finish it. I love coming in and making the final statement. I really enjoy that.
CPB – How do you enjoy pitching at Nat Bailey Stadium so far?
GF – It’s amazing. You know the crowds here are amazing. I didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t really been to Canada much, being from Alabama. Being in the stadium, listening to everybody sing ‘Oh Canada’ and just being by your side when you strike out that final guy for the final out. It’s amazing, it’s electric here.
CPB – Talk about some of the rule changes in the minors like pitching with the pitch clocks. How’s that been for you?
GF – It is a change of pace, I will say that. There’s some things that the guys like about it and there’s some things that the guys don’t really like about it. I do see the pace of play change right at the games are ending a little faster, but I think baseball is a more strategic, slower sport. So do I like it? Yes, but do I think there could be some modification? Yes, absolutely.
CPB – How do you try to slow down or calm down on the mound because I’m sure you got the adrenaline going when you’re when you first hit the mound?
GF – Yeah, absolutely. I just like to take deep breaths. I think I’m the loudest breather, I would say. I always take a huge breath and just let it all out and just collect myself before I throw. It’s a little routine I do before I throw.
CPB – You’ve had a chance in Dunedin to look at the Player Development Complex. How does that helped you develop?
GF – Tremendously, actually. Going in there they had this pitching lab that I had never experienced before, so I was able to get this really cool data and really just get the ball rolling on developmental things. It’s state of the art down there. It’s amazing. They got cameras. It’s quite spectacular what they got going down there and it’s really exciting for the Blue Jays.
CPB – What are your goals for 2022 now that you’re here with Vancouver?
GF – Win the thing, you know. We’re not here playing 140 games just for fun. You know we want to get this team rolling. We lost a couple games back but I think we got a solid team and I feel like we can really take off if we get the ball rolling.
A fun fact about Farmer—he is superstitious about wearing game socks inside-out according to his Jacksonville State University bio.
Thanks a million again to Garrett Farmer for his time. You can find him on Twitter @G__farm and on Instagram @garrettfarmer_. Thanks as well to C’s play-by-play man Tyler Zickel for arranging the interview.