(Alyson Boyer Rode)

CARY, N.C. -- Stone Garrett is approaching the Tournament of Stars with a plan.

Visualize. Square the ball up every time. Play hard.

"I came up here with the approach of driving the ball the other way," Garrett said Friday. "I've actually hit the ball hard the other way a couple of times now. I'm glad about that."

Garrett approaches his life, which is almost all about baseball, with a similar plan.  

He works out six or seven days a week. He hydrates. He eats right. He has hitting lessons and does speed work and conditioning.

"He's very conscious about his body," his father, Greg Garrett, said. "He reads books about the mental aspects of the game and how to get better.

"He's doing what he needs to do to succeed."

Success this week means standing out among the 144 players at the Tournament of Stars, the first step in the selection process for USA Baseball 18U National Team, which will play in the IBAF 18U World Cup in Taiwan starting in late August.

Of the 144 in Cary, 40 will advance to the 18U National Team trials in Los Angeles in mid-August, where that group will be trimmed to the 20 players who go to Taiwan.

So far, Garrett has enjoyed the competition in Cary.

"The pitching is excellent," he said. "Everybody is in the 90s or upper 80s, and if they're upper 80s they're lefty with some dirty offspeed."

Everything has gone according to plan so far … except his 60 time in Friday's evaluations.

"My dad's going to be a little disappointed because last week I ran 6.5 and 6.47, and then I just ran two 6.7s out there (in the skills evaluation)," he said.

So, dad, your thoughts?

"Nah, I'm not disappointed," Greg Garrett said. "I know when you run 60s, it's hand-clocked, it's laser, somebody different is doing it, sometimes you get different times.

"My thing is I think he should be running under 6.6 every time he runs, because he trains hard on that. But I heard everybody's time was higher today.

"It happens."

That is one of the few things for Stone Garrett that hasn't gone as planned. Just like most of Garrett's life.

An interview with him is full of 'Yes, sir' and 'No sir.' He takes time to credit former coaches, from Lamar Little League to George Ranch High in Sugar Land, Texas, for teaching him fundamentals. He says competing against the best players in Texas has made him the player he is.

And he says his hobby is baseball, followed by working out for baseball, and only when pushed does he mention going to the swimming pool or hanging out with friends, what he calls "typical teenager stuff."

His father understands. He says his son has a 3.9 GPA, took piano lessons until he was 14 and played football until last season, but ...

"I'd like to say he has other hobbies, but he doesn't," Greg Garrett said. "He plays baseball. Did he say he has other hobbies? Because I'd like to know what it is."

Greg Garrett, who spent the final 15 years of a 20-year career in the Navy as a recruiting officer, has viewed young people from a unique perch. He says he realizes his son's focus is unusual, having started hundreds of recruits toward Navy careers.

"You get all kinds, but once they got in there and got to boot camp, they behaved differently," he said. "And if they didn't, you had to send them back home to their parents.

"Hopefully while (Stone) is down there he's learning a lot, because he kind of absorbs what people tell him, and he likes to learn. He's very trainable.

"He listens to his coaches and to people who give him advice so he can get better.

"Sometimes youth don't want to do that."

For Stone Garrett, Cary is a boot camp of sorts, if only for the time away from home. His father is limiting his contact, letting his son get used to the situation.

"Because this is only his second time away from home, I wanted to give him that experience of being on his own," he said. "If you do go off to college or go off to the Minor Leagues, you know what it's going to be like on your own.

"I think I talked to him once this week. But I wanted him to get that experience of being away from home."

Soon enough, Stone Garrett will be on his own. He expects to pick a college in the next few weeks, and is down to Rice, Texas and Texas A&M.

But first he has the remainder of the Tournament of Stars, and potentially a trip to Taiwan.

"Making the USA Team, going to Taiwan? That would be great, amazing," Garrett said. 

"Representing the country that your dad fought for. That would be awesome."

Is there anything in Garrett's life that isn't in military order, by the book and according to plan?

His father can think of only one thing.   

"His room is a mess," Greg Garrett said, laughing. "You know, he is a typical teenager when it comes to that."


Follow Mike Persinger on Twitter (@MikeP_TOS) for coverage of the Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., June 19-23.