Garrett Schlecht is a 6’-2”, 190-pound outfielder in the Chicago Cubs organization. The left-hander was a ninth-round draft pick by the team in 2011 out of Waterloo HS in Waterloo, Illinois, where he hit .500 his senior season with seven home runs, 40 RBI, 13 stolen bases and drew 23 walks over 122 plate appearances for a .623 OBP. He also sported a 3.36 ERA on the mound with 72 strikeouts over 41.2 innings, including a 6-2 record. The Cubs liked the kid so much they made him the highest paid ninth-round draft pick in the history of the draft. Aside from his advanced approach at the plate and developing power from the left side, Schlecht also brings an array of intangibles with him to the ballpark everyday. He has a strong arm in the outfield, sneaky speed, which allowed him to steal eight bases over 35 games, and the ability to drop down a bunt in any count or move the runners along with a hit the other way.
I had a chance to bounce some questions off of Garrett and want to thank him for his time.
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Describe your first full season of pro ball.
My first pro season was one that I will never forget. I learned so many things that helped me be an overall better baseball player. I learned my body and how it’s changing. I found out so many things about myself on the field and off that will help me down the road. It makes your first full season a lot more enjoyable when you have the best record in the league.
The AZL Cubs finished 37-19, the best record for an AZL Cubs team ever, and came within one game of the league championship game. With players like Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Daniel Vogelbach and others coming and going all season, how did you guys maintain the team chemistry to be so successful?
We maintained our chemistry by trying to do the same things when they were gone. They’re all great players and helped our team out very much. All we did was stay positive and kept our eyes on winning. It didn’t matter who was on our team, we felt like we were going to win it all. We were all very close and supported each other a lot.
What are you going to work on most this offseason?
This offseason I’m going to work on getting stronger. A lot of hard work on getting me stronger. I’m going to work on my swing a ton, also.
Who has been the biggest influence in your baseball career?
My biggest influence would be my dad. He played until he was 46, and watching him play everyday made me love the game so much more. My other influence would be my high school travel-team coach Rick Strickland.
You are known for having a great batting eye. How did you develop it?
I developed my batting eye through a lot of hitting. Just seeing so many pitches and knowing the strike zone helped me out.
What would you tell Cubs fans about the future of the organization?
Cubs fans, the future is very bright! As you can tell by our AZL team and the Boise team.
Minor leaguers are known for eating whatever they can find in odd hours of the night after games. What are some of your favorite after-game meals?
My favorite after-game meal would probably have to be deer sausage smokies. With, of course, a glass of chocolate milk.
I’ve heard about your love for chocolate milk. How much of it can you consume in one day?
The most I’ve consumed in one day was a gallon. I usually drink a half gallon a day. I go through about three gallons a week.
After starting the season 2-for-21 over five June games, you hit .286 the rest of the way with a .398 OBP, including a 4-for-4 performance with a double, triple and stolen base your final regular season game. Was it a matter of adjusting over time, or getting in a groove with more playing time?
I feel like it was just adjusting over time. I settled in and I felt a lot better about myself, both physically and mentally. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and I really wanted to finish with a bang.
What would be your walk up song?
My walk up song would have to be “Papercut” by Linkin Park. That, or some country song that relaxes me as I walk to the plate.
Best pitcher you faced this year?
The best pitcher I faced this year would probably have to be Josh Collmenter when he was on rehab assignment for the Diamondbacks.
What were you thinking about as you rounded the bases after knocking out your first career home run?
As I was rounding third, I just told myself that I finally did it. It’s the best feeling in the world. I don’t think anyone could’ve taken the smile off my face as I was about to touch the plate.
Thanks again for the time Garrett, and good luck next year and beyond!
You can follow Garrett on Twitter @garrettschlecht