Baby Bomber Pitchers: Deivi Garcia
The Yankees have, over the past few years, done a spectacular job in building depth at both the big league level and in the minor leagues. This is particularly impressive given that they draft at the bottom of the first round almost every year. Depth, of course, is crucial. Baseball players play the most number of games of any professional sport and high stress activities, like pitching and hitting, can cause injuries. “Next Man Up” is a fact of life in the game. It was, of course, the Yankees’ depth that saved them last year.
I thought that I would look at some of the depth in the higher levels of the Yankees’minor league system as it relates to pitching. Over the next week, or so, there will be a collection of articles from me looking at various young high-level Yankees minor league pitchers. For me, following these players through the system and rooting for them when they hit the majors is one of my favorite parts of the game.
We’ll begin this process by looking at Deivi Garcia.
Almost everyone is very excited about 20 year old starter Deivi Garcia. And there is a lot to like:
He hit AAA at the young age of 20.
He’s struck out more than 10 batters per 9 innings at every stop in the minors (10.13 per nine in 40 innings last year).
He’s got good stuff and a solid makeup.
He’s also very athletic.
Those are the good points…
I am less excited about his near term prospects as a starter. As great as he has been, there are some concerns with Deivi Garcia.
He’s only 5 feet and 9 inches tall. Due to this, durability is a concern.
He was walking under 3 batters per 9 innings in low A and high A in 2018, but he wasn’t able to sustain this as he climbed the ladder through the minor leagues. His walk rate shot up in 2019 to 4.36 per 9 innings in 53.7 innings at AA and 4.50 in 9 innings in 40 innings at AAA.
Anecdotally, I’ve seen starters fly through the lower minors and hit a wall at AA. For these pitchers, their stuff is good enough to make up for a lack of Major League quality control, allowing them to be successful in the lower minors. Once they hit AA, the hitters have better plate discipline and, as the walks increase, the pitcher’s effectiveness decreases. Chance Adams is the most memorable recent example of this phenomenon. As he climbed through the minors, he became less and less impressive. Garcia could follow that pattern.
Control is a skill. Throwing a ball 60 feet and 6 inches at a target and consistently hitting it plus or minus three inches is not easy. Many pitchers can never learn this skill no matter how long and how hard they try. Very good control is critical for sustained success on the mound. This control is often the difference between success and failure. Baseball is a game of inches…this is one proof of that old adage.
One might read my concerns and conclude that I am down on Deivi Garcia. I’m not saying that Deivi Garcia is a lost cause as a starter. He’s certainly young enough to improve. I’m just saying that he’s not on my personal shortlist for the first call-up to the majors if a need arises. It is my opinion that, while he has a lot of upside, there is still a good deal of necessary growth, skill development, and maturity that must take place before Garcia sees a big league pitching mound.
Deivi Garcia is on track for the Major Leagues, he just might not be on the fast track that everyone assumes he’s on.