Testimonial Tuesday: Garret Kangas

Testimonial Tuesday: Garret Kangas

While the phrase may seem universally applicable for any player with innings left in their career, for Garret Kangas, a 2021 right-handed pitcher out of Carlisle School in Axton, Virginia, it simply depicts his attitude towards his development.

Part of that approach may come from the fact his pitching delivery has taken on some major changes in the last few years. Garret made the decision to drop his arm angle as a 14u player and though it took some time to settle in on the delivery he has noticed marked improvement the last few seasons.

In speaking about the transition to the sub arm slot, Jon Walker, the Director of Operations for Dirtbags – Virginia, said, “That’s not typical for most HS freshman to commit to doing. Garret knew he needed to be different to get noticed. He had always been a striker thrower and had the ability to throw multiple pitches for strikes, but working from down under really burst him onto the scene.”

Kangas’ velo went from 70mph prior to his 9th grade year to 84mph this past summer. Garret says apart from the physical maturation that took place in that time span, the biggest reason is learning the timing of the delivery.

To accomplish such a feel for the delivery the 17 year old righty has found a myriad of resources to aid his progress. Foremost of those, according to Garret, has been the ability to simply be available to throw and trying to learn each time.

Putting himself in a position to get quality feedback and face quality opponents in high profile events certainly has also been a part of the process for Kangas. Becoming a Dirtbag two years ago, he says getting instruction and opportunities from coaches like Will Inman and Jon Walker definitely made a significant impact. From advice on how to handle game situations to learning how to talk to college coaches the tutelage from the Dirtbags has seemingly been invaluable.

As one would imagine, making such aforementioned improvements might bring attention from college coaches looking for a quality arm able to successfully perform with such a unique delivery. 

Walker noted, “Over the summer, there was 8-10 DI baseball programs who were watching Garret closely.”

Even with those college programs ramping up interest, Kangas says his decision to commit to Campbell University this past August was an obvious one.

About the experience, Garret said, “It all happens fast …(but) Campbell was an easy call.”

Getting into more detail on the commitment to the Camels, Kangas says a number of factors influenced the decision. Among those were the relatively standard draws a student-athlete may see in any institution they find to their liking; the size of the school, the campus, and even the athletic facilities were all positives for him. Additionally, Kangas said he felt the coaching staff at Campbell can best provide him valuable direction as he continues to hone his craft on the mound.

The junior hurler stated that being committed with still two seasons of high school baseball left in his career provides him an opportunity to be relieved of pressure and allow him to focus on continuing to get better. Instead of fearing what results may be from a gutsy pitch in a tight count, he said he can now direct his attention to the execution in that moment.

But in all of this talk about developing his skills, the fact remains that his game on the bump is quite simple.  Standing at 6’1” and 200 pounds, Kangas looks to pound the zone with his two-seamer that can be anywhere from 77 to 84 mph, to go with his occasional slider or changeup. The attacking style, his movement, and the variance in speed lends itself to results that range from weak contact to swings & misses.  Kangas admits this provides him an emotional charge at times and will sometimes “let loose after a K.”

Even with this drive to be his best on the diamond, Garret finds time to do the things a lot of teenage guys love to do – go fishing or even play other sports. One sport or pastime high on his list is actually bowling. While he didn’t reflect on the similarities between his bowling style and his “down under” delivery, he did share a he recently posted a not-too-shabby 190 on the lanes.

But baseball remains Garret’s passion and his desire to help his team shows up well beyond his pitching performances. As a two-way player for his high school Kangas is already prepping for the spring with taking cuts regularly at off-season workouts. The Chiefs of Carlisle School are looking to get past the state semifinals, where their season has ended the last three years, to achieve a coveted state championship.

When asked what the term Dirtbag means, Kangas responded “(Dirtbag) symbolizes a great organization that helps kids realize their goals … it’s the coaches who strive to get you to play at the next level.”

He went on to mention that Dirtbag coaches help not only in the skill development required to give kids a chance at that next level but also in having contacts and connections to intersect the players’ performances with college coaches.

Attributing the success he’s experienced thus far to God, it’s clear to see the young man wants to keep getting better so he can help his team – the Dirtbags, the Carlisle Chiefs, and eventually the Camels. Which means, like his will to improve, his playing days are far from being done.