PHOENIX — It all started with a LinkedIn message.
Diamondbacks left fielder Stone Garrett, working full-time in real estate at the time, opened the networking website without any true motive. He had an account but rarely checked for updates, alerts and messages.
But on this fateful day in March of 2021, Garrett decided to go outside his normal routine and checked his inbox to find a message from Dan Budreika. Two days later, Garrett tried out and signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks after his release during the previous year.
“I had LinkedIn, but I never used it and Dan found me on LinkedIn. So he’s the one that reached out,” Garrett said. “I never wanted to use social media to reach out for a job. I never thought of it, but now, you know, if you have social media, you need a job, reach out.”
Garrett needed a job after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was canceled. Garrett was released from the Marlins and returned to his hometown in Houston.
He replaced his glove for the real estate license he obtained in 2018, when the minor leaguer wanted to earn supplemental income. Working as a luxury real estate agent, Garrett made almost 10 times his annual salary as a minor league baseball player. Still Garrett knew his playing days weren’t over. Then came the divine intervention.
Budreika, a former Marlins minor league video coordinator, loved watching Garrett play in the Gulf Coast League during Garrett’s first pro season and sent a message to let him know. Electing not to respond with a simple “thank you,” Garrett requested work as an outfielder for any team, Double-A or above.
“In 2015, I saw him and he was an outstanding player that year in Batavia and the offensive production was impressive, so when he reached out to me asking for help I remembered those things, and I went through the proper channels and recommended him first to the group in Cleveland where I was currently working,” said Budreika, who was the former assistant director of pro scouting for the Cleveland Indians. ”Unfortunately, our rosters were full at that time in March 2021.”
Budreika got Garrett in touch with his former coworker with the Marlins, Diamondbacks scout Brett West. Garrett signed a minor league contract and received an invitation to spring training in 48 hours and credits Budreika for making it happen.
“I thought he was deserving of a chance to compete for a job in minor league camp in 2021, so I sent similar messages to about six of my contacts that I have good professional relationships with recommending him and letting them know that he wants to compete in a minor league camp,” Budreika said. “I just wanted to help the player … It’s great that they (Diamondbacks) took a shot on him, and goes to show that sometimes all players need is an opportunity and change of scenery. It’s truly an amazing story that he’s now a Major League player.”
Garrett put up impressive numbers at Double-A Amarillo in 2021, posting 25 home runs, 81 RBIs and maintaining a .280 batting average. He played only two games at Triple-A Reno Aces that season before continuing the 2022 season with them. With the Aces, Garrett had a .275 batting average, hit 28 home runs and had 95 RBIs with 15 stolen bases.
On Aug. 17, Garrett received his long-awaited call-up to the majors and made his debut against the San Francisco Giants. The left fielder went 2-3 with two doubles in his first major league appearance.
“He looks comfortable, he’s a swinger, but he’s also shown the ability to take some tough pitches,” Diamondbacks hitting coach Joe Mather said. “(His swing) is a unique move and kind of the way we see it here is it’s a little unique up until he’s ready to fire, and at that point it’s really, really good.”
Garrett’s career path has been anything but linear, but the 26-year-old is finally achieving his dream of playing in the majors. In his 11 games with the Diamondbacks, Garrett has hit .405 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 37 at-bats.
“You work hard and as a kid, you dream about playing on the big stage,” Garrett said. “You see all those guys playing, and then we get drafted, realize that it’s closer than you think and put in the hard work. Just trust yourself and trust the work you put in that you can make it and so to make it, it’s a great feeling.”
He’s forever thankful to LinkedIn for bringing him back to the game he loves, and has a message of his own to anyone looking for career advice.
“It just shows you never know, shoot your shot,” Garrett said. “You never know who’s in a position to help you.”