Perci Garner certainly benefited from a change of scenery. After struggling during his last four starts at high Single-A Clearwater, the 24-year-old righthander was summoned for a start with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
And Garner, the Phillies second round pick in 2010 from Ball State, responded with a solid performance.
Garner pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed six hits, and two runs, both earned, in Monday’s 8-2 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before 10,100 at Coca-Cola Park. He struck out seven and walked two, throwing 92 pitches, 59 for strikes. All six hits he allowed were singles.
“It feels good to be here,” Garner said. “To be honest I didn’t think I would be here.”
He had a simple reason for feeling that way.
In his four previous starts at Clearwater, Garner had allowed 15 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings for an 8.27 ERA. He walked 17 and struck out 13.
Things were going so poorly that Garner was relegated to the bullpen. He didn’t make any relief appearances and was shocked when told he was coming up to Lehigh Valley.
Nobody, including Garner knows if this was just a spot start or if he will be staying any longer. What was known is that Garner received a major boost from Monday’s performance.
It is definitely a turnaround,” he said. “I had the confidence at Clearwater to know I could get guys out at that level because I did it most of the year but I can’t explain what happened as of late.”
Against Scranton Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees affiliate, he threw a fastball in low ‘90’s, but what was more impressive is that his pitches had good movement.
“He had good depth to his sinker and surprised people with a four seam fastball and had a great changeup both sides of the plate that really helped out in making his fastball look even better,” said IronPigs catcher Cameron Rupp.
Garner, who was 6-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 22 starts at Clearwater, hopes this turns the corner for him.
“It’s good to come up here and prove I can pitch at this level,” he said. “Hopefully I can stay here and maybe prove I can be consistent and have consistent success at this level.”