By STEVE KRAH
As the son of a talent evaluator, Garrett Christman has grown up around professional baseball.
“I saw how players interact with each other — on and off the field — and what it takes to be a professional,” says the oldest son of San Francisco Giants area scout and former minor league catcher Kevin Christman. “The work ethic was instilled in me and I knew the athlete I need to be to play baseball at a high level.”
The 22-year-old got his first taste as a pro player this summer.
A shortstop and right-handed pitcher at Butler, the Giants used him as a pitcher-only at the rookie-ball level.
Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot with a four-seam fastball, sinking fastball, curveball/slider mix and “circle” change-up in his arsenal, Christman made 12 mound appearances (all in relief) for the Arizona League Giants Black squad. He went 1-5 with a 5.68 earned run average. In 12 2/3 innings, he struck out eight and walked two.
“It’s one step up from college,” says Christman in comparing his first pro ball experience to Butler, where he was a second team all-Big East Conference selection in 2018. “Hitters are more aggressive. It’s more individualized. Each player is there competing for a job. It’s our career ultimately.
“But the game is still the same. It’s still three outs per inning.”
Swinging from the left side, he hit .310 with one home run, seven doubles, two triples and 48 runs batted in for the spring — the first Butler Bulldog to record 40 or more RBIs since 2015.
For his college career, Christman hit .276 with two homers, 24 doubles, two triples and 93 RBIs
In his last two years at Butler, he went to the mound 24 times (20 as a starter) and went 7-8 with a 3.09 ERA. In 127 1/3 innings, he struck out 102 and walked 35.
Following his first three seasons at Butler, he honed his skills in summer ball with the New England Collegiate League’s Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats in 2015 and 2016 and Northwoods League‘s LaCrosse (Wis.) Loggers in 2017.
Dave Schrage has been the Bulldogs head coach the past two seasons.
Christman says Schrage had he and his teammates “acting like a winner.”
“He really instilled having a winning culture and having confidence in ourselves and with each other to get the job done,” says Christman, who helped Butler go 34-20 and qualify for the program’s first Big East Tournament berth. “It was good to set that precedent. Hopefully, teams in the future can follow it.”
Christman was selected by the Giants in the 37th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
After talking it over with his family, he opted to go to Butler to improve his game and pursue a degree in Human Movement and Health Science.
“Coming out of high school, I was not ready to go play pro ball right away,” says Christman.
In college, he became physically stronger and faster. But that’s not all.
“One big thing is that I learned to fail,” says Christman. “Through middle school and high school, I never really dealt with failure. I had always played on teams that had success.”
“I improved by mental game (in college),” says Christman. “I learned to bounce back from a bad game and to adjust. It made me a better baseball player in general.”
Christman played four seasons at Noblesville for head baseball coach Justin Keever and credits him for setting the standard.
“He was very determined in making sure we were doing the little things on the field,” says Christman of Keever. “By doing the little things, you’ll be rewarded.”
Keever also emphasized being a good teammate.
“You hold each other accountable, but don’t jeopardize your friendship or relationship with each other,” says Christman. “That went to building a winning culture with our team and one that’s a Noblesville currently.”
Christman decided to pursue the major he did because it combines elements of kinesiology, exercise science, sports administration and even coaching.
Working out Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Noblesville, Millers Strength & Conditioning coordinator Brian Clarke invited him to address current NHS baseball players.
“I talked how important it is to stay healthy and use the weight room to their advantage,” says Christman, who also answered players’ questions. “Coach Clarke and I have a good relationship. He is the best in the business. He adds to that winning culture for many of the sports at Noblesville.”
Garrett and younger brother Connor Christman played travel baseball together as well as at Noblesville and Butler.
“It was awesome,” says Garrett of Connor, who was a sophomore third baseman/catcher at Butler in 2018. “We practice and train together.”
Both Christman boys were born in California — Garrett in San Jose and Connor in West Hills. The family — Kevin, wife Linda and their sons — moved to western New York and were closer to their sons’ grandparents while Kevin was a scout for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The travel team in New York was the Lewiston-Porter Lancers. The Christmans moved to the Midwest around the time Garrett was 11 and the boys played and their father was a leader in the Indiana Mustangs Baseball travel organization.
Garrett Christman also played with the famed Midland (Ohio) Redskins.
Just weeks removed from the Arizona League season, Garrett is spending much of his time relaxing and spending time with family and friends. He plans to spend the next few months lifting and running and doing yoga and flexibility exercises. In late December or early January, he will begin throwing and start ramping up for spring training.
Garrett Christman, a graduate of Noblesville (Ind.) High School and Butler University in Indianapolis, is a pitcher in the San Francisco Giants organization.