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March 26, 2005

by Fabian

One Season out of 1000 (SG)

Christian Garcia, 19, RHP

While I found the Yankees selection of Jon Poterson in the ’04 draft to be indefensible, I was both surprised and pleased with them picking up Garcia. I had not heard much about Garcia before draft day, but all I needed to know, and found out quickly, was that he threw hard and had very little mileage on his arm due to only pitching his senior year of high school. The Yankees were able to sign Garcia quickly and send him to the GCL for some work.

Garcia’s inexperience was easy to locate as he struggled with walks, 4.0 per 9 innings during the GCL regular season, many of which stemmed from inconsistent curveball command. The other side of that is that when he did command his curveball, GCL hitters stood little to no chance. In addition, walking a lot of hitters did not stop Garcia from running up excellent strikeout totals, 11.1 per 9 innings to be exact. As the season went on, the GCL coaches gained enough confidence in the pitching newcomer to allow him to hold the role of number 1 starter for the postseason and it worked out for everyone since the GCL Yankees ended up as league champions.

The lanky RHP’s success and ability to overcome being new to the pitching aspect of baseball can be credited entirely to a right arm with loads of natural talent. Though he is still lanky and has room for physical maturation, Garcia’s fastball already sits in the low 90s and he reportedly hit 97 in the playoffs, according to Pinstripes Plus. In addition, some scouts feel that he could eventually sit in the upper 90s as a relief pitcher or in the mid 90s as a starter, with the occasional 100 thrown in. As if that’s not impressive enough, some scouts see Garcia’s out pitch, the curveball, as major league average right now. His development with this pitch should only be aided by the Yankees recent decision to emphasize the development of a pitcher’s fastball, curveball, and changeup before anything else. With the rest of his arsenal being as effective/dominant as it was in the past calendar year, Garcia had little incentive to utilize the changeup. However, the progress he has made with this pitch during the offseason will determine whether his final line in ’05 makes him look like a future dominant reliever or a future front of the rotation starter.

Garcia’s ’04 GCL performance was somewhat similar to what Abel Gomez did at the level in ’03, though Garcia did admittedly outperform Gomez, and they do at least hold the similarity of good fastballs. From what I’ve seen reported, Garcia probably has better control of his and has a much better breaking pitch as scouts already feel his curveball will be an outstanding out pitch. All this leads me to believe that Garcia should get the job done, with relative ease, for Charleston in ’05. My only concern is that more so than others his transition to full season ball could see him suffer through some dead arm towards season’s end due to his inexperience.

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