Garrison Lassiter | SS
Lassiter grew up in High Point, NC, just outside of Greensboro and Winston-Salem, where he attended West Forsyth High School. He had been “a guy,” as scouts call them, for several years, having played on the American Legion senior team as a 14 yr old after starring for years on AAU and UAAA teams. As a junior he hit .413 with 5 homers and 34 RBI, and he followed that up by hitting .500 with USA Baseball’s Junior National Team during the summer, where he was one of 20 players to make the team. He also participated in the prestigious Aflac All-American Game.
Lassiter hit .468 as a senior for the Titans, stealing 21 bases and scoring 29 runs in the process. He drove in the game winning run with a triple off the wall in the left-centerfield gap in the North Carolina vs South Carolina Senior Challenge in his last game as an amateur. Larrister was part of a powerful UNC recruiting class that included Tim Melville (Royals’ fourth rounder, but a top 15 talent), Derrik Gibson (BoSox’s second rounder), and LJ Hoes (O’s third rounder).
His commitment to the Tar Heels caused him to drop big time in the draft; Lassiter lasted until the Yanks bit in the 27th round, #830 overall. Considered a low priority guy, the Yanks ramped up their effort to sign him after first rounder Gerrit Cole decided to follow through on his commitment to UCLA. Lassiter signed late on the August 15th deadline for $675,000, equivalent to slot money for a mid-second round pick.
Because he signed late, Lassiter appeared in only six games for the Rookie level GCL Yanks. He went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a stolen base in his first game as a pro, following it up with a 2 for 4 effort the next day. He finished up with a .261-.292-.261 line in 23 at-bats.
The first thing everyone notices about Lassiter is his swing; he has a sweet stroke from the left side and outstanding bat speed. It allows him to hit for average and more power than expected out of a typical middle infielder. Standing very upright and slightly open in his stance, Lassiter uses a pronounced leg kick as a timing mechanicm, similar to Johnny Damon. His approach at the plate is unrefined and will need improvement, particularly for when he climbs the ladder and faces better pitching.
Lassiter has good actions and is athletic in the field, but he has to improve his hands and footwork. His strong and accurate arm is his best defensive attribute. Like his plate approach, his fielding skills need work. Listed at 6’1″, 185 lbs, there are no concerns that he’ll outgrow shortstop, however if he doesn’t improve his fielding enough he will have to move to either second or third. His speed is good and he’s a weapon on the basepaths.
Although he could probably hold his own in full season ball because of his pure bat skills, Lassiter should start 2009 in Extended Spring Training to work on his plate approach and fielding. With Carmen Angelini set to repeat Low-A Charleston, Lassiter could move on to Short Season Staten Island when the season starts in June, or perhaps take over at short for the River Dogs if Angelini earns a midseason promotion to High-A Tampa.
You gotta love it. Anytime you get a player and prospect with this kind of ability in the 27th round you can’t not approve. Lassiter has star potential if everything clicks, but he’ll more than likely end up a solid regular, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It should be noted that he’s a bit of a project, and will likely need a full year at each level as he moves up the organizational ladder.