LinkedIn profile helped outfielder reach the big leagues

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Stone Garrett’s baseball dreams came true Wednesday, when he made his league debut at age 26. And all thanks to his LinkedIn profile.

Garrett had his first two Major League hits — both doubles — against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night. And if it hadn’t been for a casual LinkedIn post, he might not have fulfilled his dream of playing for an MLB team, he told CNBC Make It.

In 2020, the Miami Marlins organization released Garrett as teams trimmed their minor league rosters during the Covid-19 pandemic. Garrett already had a real estate license — he got it in 2018, in order to earn extra income during the offseason — and decided to make selling homes his full-time career.

That summer, he began selling homes in the Houston area, where he had grown up. Fast forward to March 2021, when Garrett logged into his LinkedIn profile and found a post from Dan Budreika, a former Marlins video coordinator. Budreika had written to wish Garrett luck as a real estate agent, but Garrett thought he would try to get back into the game.

“I said, ‘Hey, do you know anybody who needs an outfielder? I feel like I can still compete at Double-A or above,'” Garrett told the Arizona Republic on Wednesday. “He said, ‘No, but let me ask around. “”

Budreika connected Garrett to another former Marlins employee, Brett West, now a Diamondbacks scout. Within two days, Garrett signed a minor league contract with Arizona and was invited to spring training.

Garrett says it was the chance he needed: real estate, after all, “can always wait.”

“I knew I just needed an opportunity, a chance to be on a pro baseball team again,” he says. “And there was a good chance, with my work ethic and my drive, that I could reach that level.”

“I was literally making 10 times my baseball paycheck”

Before Garrett’s conversation with Budreika, his fledgling real estate career was going pretty well. He says he’s sold about 10 homes since 2019, and the pay was significantly better than his minor league salary.

“I was literally making 10 times my baseball salary to sell a house,” Garrett says. “So, I mean, it was great. But I didn’t want it to be my job.”

The plan, he says, was to use real estate as a way to make money while determining his next steps. He wanted to play at least one more season of baseball and thought one of the many independent league teams unaffiliated with MLB might be his best bet.

“I said I was going to play for a year,” Garrett said. “What if it didn’t work out, if I didn’t get picked up [by an MLB team]I would just do real estate full time.”

Instead, he made the most of his opportunity with the Diamondbacks. Last year, he hit 25 homers with the team’s Double-A affiliate. He followed that up this season by hitting 28 Triple-A home runs in just 103 games. That show of power ultimately earned Garrett a major league call-up this week.

Garrett is far from the only professional athlete with a LinkedIn profile, but he’s likely one of the few to have used the professional networking platform to land an invite to spring training.

Fellow MLB outfielder Joey Gallo — currently with the Los Angeles Dodgers — created a LinkedIn profile in February amid a labor dispute that threatened to delay or even potentially cancel the 2022 MLB season. The profile seemed to have been created in jest and the season started after a short delay.

NFL quarterback John Wolford joked last year that he might delete his LinkedIn profile if his stint as the Los Angeles Rams’ interim quarterback proves successful. Wolford, now a Rams quarterback, won a Super Bowl ring with the team earlier this year. His LinkedIn page remains active.

Then there are superstar athletes like Tom Brady and Stephen Curry, who both maintain active LinkedIn profiles that showcase both their athletic careers and their outside pursuits, from startups to investment vehicles.

Garrett says he plans to activate his LinkedIn profile, even if it’s just “nostalgia.”

“It got me this job,” he laughs. “It literally put me in the big leagues.”

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