Welcome back to another prospect review, ladies and gents. Last time it was a bat in Dylan Carlson, an up-and-coming 20/20 threat (we hope). This time it’s an arm, one of the prized possessions of the New York Yankees, one Deivi Garcia. And I guy I drafted in the #RemixDynasty League, so hopefully everything we unearth here is positive.
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
2019 levels: A+-AA-AAA
Garcia is the No. 42 overall prospect per Fangraphs and the top prospect in the Yankees organization. Here’s a recap of his first Triple-A start from 2019, where he debuted with six strikeouts as a 20-year-old, as the youngest player at that level at the time:
Garcia’s Triple-A experience was uneven, as he finished with a 5.40 ERA (5.77 FIP) and was stung by the long ball. The 1.80 HR/9 was the worst mark of his professional career. However, Garcia’s advancement through three levels in 2019 was impressive. I mean, when you jump from High-A to one stop away from the bigs in one season, how can it not be? For his efforts, Garcia was recognized as New York’s 2019 Minor League Player of the Year. He also jumped from their No. 4 prospect to their No. 1 prospect entering 2020.
I’m focusing more on the quick advancement than I am the results from his short stint at Triple-A as a 20-year-old in 2019. So let’s check out Garcia, pitch by pitch. That’s the only way I know how with a hurler. And to be clear, I’m simply gathering intel here. I am no scout. But I can tell you what the overall picture of this guy is currently, at least.
This is what Garcia is known for. The report on the curve is that if he were called up to the ‘pen or to patch up the rotation in 2020, the pitch would be among the best in the big leagues. Here’s one for you visual learners:
Deivi Garcia, Beautiful 74mph Curveball. pic.twitter.com/T1YkkOTiJO— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 11, 2020
It’s a plus-plus pitch and should be Garcia’s primary weapon until his slider and/or changeup can catch up a bit in terms of effectiveness.
Garcia sits 91-94 MPH comfortably, but can reach up to 96-97 MPH. The velocity has been described as “easy velocity,” which is nice to hear given that Garcia isn’t a big guy at 5’10” and 165 pounds. Still, there are some evaluators who are bearish on Garcia’s stamina given his slight frame. But since I’m new to the prospect circuit, I took it upon myself to research pitchers who could be considered power pitchers—and who also happened to be below six feet tall. Here are a few names:
Pedro Martinez (5’11”)
Billy Wagner (5’10)
Tim Lincecum (5’11”)
Johnny Cueto (5’10”)
David Robertson (5’10”)
Fernando Rodney (5’11”)
Kelvin Herrera (5’10”)
Marcus Stroman (5’7”)
Sonny Gray (5’10”)
Matt Bush (5’9”)
And that’s really just a cursory glance. Honestly, seeing those names was pretty encouraging. And as this was only a quick look, I’m certain there are other guys to unearth. I’m not going to knock the guy due to his size. The great Pedro Martinez—as mentioned in the above video—pitched at about that height and only 175 pounds. So as Garcia fills out a little, he’s not going to be far off from that size. We’re talking about only 10 pounds, folks. As long as Garcia stays fit, that weight (and additional strength) will come.
As for spotting the fastball, for all his talent this was an area of growth for Garcia as late as August of last year, when Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey said Garcia would need to focus on improving his command, particularly that of his fastball. However, Harkey also noted that some of Garcia’s struggles at Triple-A were due to Garcia mastering the use of his slider. The overarching point I keep finding on Garcia is that he was CLOSE last year. Close to getting the call to the bigs in September, to help out of the bullpen with his 97 MPH heat and that knee-buckling curveball. That’s an impressive feat for a 20-year-old who climbed three levels. And for what it’s worth, here’s Garcia painting the black with 96 MPH heat during last year’s Futures Game:
Here's some more Deivi Garcia gifs from the Futures Game: First off, his strikeout with a 96 mph fastball on the black. pic.twitter.com/va7QZwincQ— Adlai STEVENson (@StevenTydings) July 8, 2019
And here is the ridiculous overlay on these two pitches:
Even if those two pitches were all he had, the ability to change eye levels with the plus-plus curveball and the high heat would be dangerous with his current level of command. But these aren’t the only two pitches in his arsenal.
Garcia has thrown the changeup longer than the slider, so I’m discussing it first. And because I lean on people smarter than myself, I can report that the changeup is considered to be an average pitch, but that it is also “playable” right now. That, and given Garcia’s athleticism and his overall pitchability, most evaluators feel the changeup still has room to improve. I couldn’t really find any worthy video here, so we’ll have to just accept that Garcia is a dude who ALREADY has three pitches in his impressive arsenal.
And what do ya know, Garcia began introducing a slider in May of last year as a fourth pitch. As if he weren’t dangerous enough to project already! The slider is already considered a plus offering. Consider that Garcia used the slider as his out pitch on two of his six strikeouts in that first Triple-A start last year, and to me that’s just silly. He’s 20 years old and showing well against older competition, racking up tons of strikeouts, and adding a fourth pitch to his arsenal. And don’t just take my word for it. Here’s veteran catcher Erik Kratz, who caught Garcia’s first start in Triple-A last year:
Granted, Garcia backslid a bit at Triple-A after that hot start, but to just be cruising against Triple-A hitters at the age of 20 is impressive. Especially given that more refinement should be on the way for Garcia’s secondary offerings, namely his changeup and his slider. And for what it’s worth, the Yankees are an organization we trust to develop non-fastballs. Anybody ever heard of Masahiro Tanaka?
For immediate fantasy baseball impact, the outlook isn’t great given the pandemic. In a normal season Garcia could have been afforded more seasoning at Triple-A to begin the year. The Yankees have slowly stretched Garcia out and view him as a starter—so the idea that he might be up with the big league team and pitching out of the bullpen is pretty deflating. Or if he is on some form of taxi squad and not getting to pitch live against Triple-A competition every fifth day, that’s a bummer as well. Unfortunately that’s the deal with minor league players in 2020—and heck, who knows if we’ll even see big league baseball?
The sliver of hope for 2020 impact is that Garcia is LETHAL with regard to strikeouts, and the back end of that rotation and bullpen are places where Garcia could make the leap. And in a lesser organization, we probably would have seen Garcia in the bigs at the end of 2019. This level of strikeout stuff could be a weapon out of any MLB bullpen right now. Check out the strikeouts by year:
2016 (R): 61 Ks in 48 1⁄3 IP
2017 (R): 85 Ks in 60 IP
2018 (A-A+-AA): 105 Ks in 74 IP
2019: (A+-AA-AAA): 165 Ks in 111 1⁄3 IP
Just FILTH. Pure filth. How about this—Garcia’s worst strikeout rate as a professional occurred last season at Triple-A, when he posted a 25.3% K-rate. And mind you, he was the youngest player in the league when he was promoted. But that rate was still 3% better than the MLB average for all starters in 2019, which was only 22.3%. And prior to that mark at Triple-A, Garcia had never had a mark lower than 30% at any professional level. The dude has just been dominant with regard to strikeouts. And for a guy with his age, stuff, and deep arsenal...he seems like a safe bet to be someone we’ll count on for strikeouts immediately at the next level.
I don’t know in what capacity we’ll see Garcia in 2020, as I don’t know what leagues will exist or what opportunities will be available for top prospects. But if we do see him in the majors at some point, let’s all pay close attention to whether he can throw that nasty curveball for strikes. More advanced hitters will chase out of the zone less, as evidenced by Garcia’s 4.50 BB/9 at Triple-A last year—the highest mark he’s recorded since his first year as a professional. Still, for a guy with his youth and talents, a little more control and command seems like a given. And long-term, the ceiling looks stupendous for Garcia if he can add a tad bit more weight and strength. Like, say he’s working comfortably around 94-95 MPH with that deep arsenal of pitches...you could be looking at a real and fake life fantasy baseball ace.
Overall, I am excited to have drafted Garcia’s talents in the #RemixDynasty League and I look forward to following this guy’s career. What say you all? Are you worried about the slight frame? Or trusting the stuff?