97mph fastballs don’t grow on trees. Pitchers who can dial up that sort of velocity are coveted, even if they don’t ever develop enough of the other aspects of pitching to be viable Major Leaguer. Because there’s always a chance they will.
And yet somehow Luis Garcia ended up in beauty school, learning about layering and sectioning instead of developing a slider. When I first saw Garcia in Double-A, neither the scouts nor I had any idea where the hell he had come from or why he was allowed to go there in the first place. mid-90s fastballs aren’t banished from baseball, they linger until they fizzle out. So what happened with Garcia? At first I thought it must have been something insidious. I turned out to be wrong.
Signed out of Dominicana by the Dodgers as a 19-year old, Garcia was traded to the Nationals in 2009 as part of the immortal Ronnie Belliard deal. Stuck in High-A Potomac at the age of 23, Garcia was starting to rot. He had some visa issues and the Nats cut ties with him. Garcia spent 2011 out of baseball, learning which shampoos help create more volume and moving furniture to make some money on the side. In 2012, one of Garcia’s former minor league teammates began pitching in Newark alerted the team of Garcia’s arm strength and relative unemployment. He was signed and pitched 16 mediocre innings for the Bears. A Phillies scout grinding away at an Indy League game saw him and alerted the front office who then set up a “workout” which, under the circumstances, means they watched him throw in a local batting cage before offering him a minor league deal. Garcia worked his a way up from Clearwater in 2013 and here we are.
Garcia is a thrower. He’ll sit 93-95mph and touch 97mph with movement. It’s a plus-plus pitch. He compliments that with a fringe average slider that will show better at times but isn’t good enough to get swings and misses on its own with any sort of regularity. Rather, it needs to be put in the right spot to avoid being punished. Garcia doesn’t exactly put things in “spots”. He has 30 control and command and overall just doesn’t have enough complimenting his fastball to be anything more than an 11th or 12th man on a pitching staff at most. He walked 23 hitters in 31.1 innings of big league work to the tune of a 3.73 ERA. He wasn’t outrighted off of the 40-man roster along with some of the org’s other fringe relief arms yesterday so the club at least wants to have more of a look for now, but Garcia isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. That he went from cutting hair to Newark to Philadelphia in two years is a fantastic story, great for Garcia and his family and a triumph of the organization’s scouting staff to find a player worthy of a big league chance. With that in mind:
My Grade: B-
I’m such a softee.