Like any competitor, Kody Garvin didn’t see as many opportunities as he would’ve liked this past spring for his baseball team at Lewis-Clark State College.
Then again, his Warriors were talent-rich and advanced to the semifinal round of the NAIA World Series before ending their season at 40-13.
In his first turn with the Medford Rogues this summer, Garvin is hoping to improve on both of those elements — and he’s certainly made impressive strides already. The 6-foot, 195-pounder belted four home runs to go with seven runs and seven RBIs in his first four games with Medford (batting .667 overall), and his four homers still stand as the high mark in the Great West League this season entering Thursday’s games.
“I’m just trying to see pitches that I can hit well and just finding barrell right now,” said the 22-year-old first baseman/outfielder. “Hopefully things stay the way they are.”
“It’s exciting,” he added. “I’ve been kind of getting opportunities hit and miss up at L-C but to get some opportunities out of the gate and just capitalize on them has been really awesome, it’s been a good feeling.”
In six games with Medford (8-6), Garvin leads the team with a .500 batting average and is tied with catcher Joe Bath with a team-high nine RBIs. Garvin and center fielder Cole Carder also have eight runs scored, trailing only shortstop Chad Pike (13). Utility player Mitchell Neunborn is second on the team with three home runs.
“It was outstanding to meet the guys and have us just gel together the way we have been has been awesome,” said Garvin of his introduction to the team last week. “We caught a few losses but I see good things for the future of this team and everybody on it. We swing it pretty well and we’ve got a lot of raw, natural talent. It’s going to be something special when we put it all together.”
As a junior at Lewis-Clark State this past spring, Garvin started seven of the 30 games he played in, batting .239 overall with eight runs and eight RBIs. He had one home run and two doubles in going 11-for-46.
“We had a solid group of guys up there and I just came to the yard everyday and did whatever I could to help my teammates out and help us get to our end goal,” he said of his reserve role. “Unfortunately we didn’t make it to it.”
Rogues manager Tyler Graham preached prior to the season that the No. 1 focus in recruiting players to Medford was to go after ones from the top programs who know how to handle business and have a winning mentality, and Garvin is one of many who have not disappointed thus far.
“He’s a very confident kid and comes from a really good program to where they’re confident and they do the right things,” said Rogues assistant coach Danny Sales, who is at the helm while Graham is assisting Oregon State at this weekend’s College World Series in Nebraska. “He’s tough and gritty, and he just goes out there and swings it and doesn’t think too much about it.”
For his part, Garvin said being part of Jeremiah Robbins’ program at Lewis-Clark State helped lend to his confident approach to the summer.
“They preach the process up there and it’s a very good program that they put us through,” said Garvin. “It’s centered around discipline and taking ownership for your actions and becoming a man.”
With Robbins returning to his roots as he reinstates the baseball program at Umpqua Community College next year, Garvin will have a new head coach in Jake Taylor but doesn’t anticipate any slip in the Warriors’ capabilities. Lewis-Clark State won NAIA titles under Robbins in 2015, ‘16 and ‘17, with the help from ex-North Medford High standouts Seth Brown and Micah Brown.
“As far as people I’ve talked to, they’ve had nothing but great things to say about him so I’m excited and looking forward to next year,” Garvin said of Taylor.
Until then, he’s just basking in his role with the Rogues.
“I’m just excited and glad to be in such a great town that’s centered around baseball as this one is,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting more people in the community and engaging in it.”
The power numbers may not climb with the same rapid pace as they did last week, however, with three of his home runs coming at the hitter-friendly Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls. Still, the left-handed hitting Garvin did drill one off the Rosebud Media sign in his Harry & David Field debut last Sunday.
“I think he’s going to hit some more (home runs),” said Sales. “He’s probably going to lick his chops in Kiger and then get one out here and there everywhere else.”
After hitting only one homer in the spring, Garvin was a little caught off guard by his fence-clearing start but he said he’ll take whatever he can get.
“The ball seemed to just fly pretty well up at Klamath so that was awesome,” he said. “I got a few pitches that I knew I could drive and one thing led to another and it was just happening.”
“It’s fun playing over there for sure,” Garvin added of Kiger Stadium, “but I love playing with this home crowd here, they’re incredible out here. I’ve never played for a crowd like this before.”
Medford ranks among the GWL leaders with an average attendance of 1,160, and Garvin and Sales said the best is yet to come as the Rogues strive to repeat as GWL champions. The Rogues open a key three-game home series against the Chico Heat, currently first in the league standings at 10-2, on Friday night at Harry & David Field.
“Guys are still getting to know each other, it seems like there’s a new guy coming in every day, but the guys that have been here since Day 1 have been really receptive,” said Sales. “I feel like we’re getting better every day. Once we get our stuff cleaned up I expect us to get on a roll here real soon.”