Deivi Garcia is currently the New York Yankees number one pitching prospect and number two overall prospect. He has used his command of four pitches to zoom through the minor league ranks. At only 20 years old, the young hurler is already knocking on the MLB door.
Garcia’s fastball/curveball combo makes him a very intriguing prospect. Though not the prettiest pitcher on the mound in terms of delivery, he repeats his delivery very well. That consistency is what prompted the Yankees to continue moving him swiftly through the minor league chain. Garcia is also able to throw his slider for strikes, giving him four total pitches in his arsenal.
In 2015, the Yankees signed Garcia for the bargain price of only $200,000 as an international free agent. In only three seasons, he moved all the way from the DSL up to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He has been consistent at every level save for the hiccup when moving up to AAA. Still, he struck out 165 hitters over the course of 111 1/3 innings pitched last season. His final six appearances last season came from out of the bullpen which, had he been called up to the big club, is where he would have been used.
Garcia is a literal strikeout machine. Over the span of 293 2/3 minor league innings, he has struck out a whopping 416 batters. His command is also something to be noted as, over that same span, he has only walked 125 batters. It is this level of command and control that has the Yankees thinking that he could potentially compete for the 5th starter spot this season with the current injuries to James Paxton and Luis Severino.
However, Garcia is not without his warts. For one, some scouts have a concern about his stature. Standing 5’9 and weighing 160lbs, there is concern about placing a starters’ workload on him. There is a lot of effort Garcia has to put into his delivery. Effort that a larger pitcher wouldn’t necessarily have to deal with. However, Garcia is athletic and very efficient. He is equipped to overcome the obstacle of being a smaller pitcher. The worst-case scenario is that, if he cannot handle the role of a starter, he can easily slide into the bullpen and become one of its most effective members.
Another minor cause for concern is the fact that Garcia did not have the best success against the tougher AAA competition last year. His K% dipped from 37.0 in AA to 25.3 in AAA. Also, Garcia’s HR/FB ballooned from 5% in AA to 18.2% in AAA. This means that, when hitters made contact against him, they were able to put much more lift on the ball and hit more home runs against him. But, despite these setbacks, there is still more reason to think Garcia will be a success than not.
First off, Garcia was only 20 years old at the time when facing his first AAA competition. He was still learning how to pitch to major-league level hitters. Still figuring out sequencing and pacing and all of the things that go along with being an MLB starting level pitcher. Also, Garcia’s walk rate remained nearly identical: 11.1% in AA, 11.2% in AAA. This means that Garcia kept the same amount of command at both levels.
Garcia’s workload has to be taken in to account when looking at his AAA numbers. He pitched 37 more innings in 2019 that 2018; 111 innings overall in 2019. That is a lot of innings for a 20-year-old kid. Fatigue most definitely played a factor towards the end of the season for Garcia. He has now had a year to get stronger and he’ll be better equipped to handle, not only the workload but the better quality hitters as well.
Without a doubt, the future is very bright for the young Deivi Garcia. At only 20 years of age with three options remaining, the Yankees have plenty of time to groom him for a rotation spot. With more seasoning and conditioning, it’s not out of the question to think that Garcia will make his MLB debut sometime later this year. If he continues to put up numbers the way he has been, that debut should be sooner rather than later.