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December 10, 2006

by Fabian

Christian Garcia, RHP, 21
Previously Ranked: 5th prior to 2006, 12th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 8th, Baseball America 6th, John Sickels 8th (B-)

Physical Ability: Garcia is often lauded as the most physically talented of the Yankee farm pitchers. I was one of the persons on this bandwagon. When healthy and focused, Garcia deals a mid 90s fastball, with the potential for upper 90s, as well as an outstanding curveball. His changeup was said to have come along this season due to time he spent working on it while hurt. That last word is the key when looking at Garcia.

What Happened in ’06: Garcia began the year hurt and the initial word was that he would be out a very short period of time and would then drop into Phil Hughes’ soon to be vacated slot in the Tampa rotation. Hughes was promoted and Garcia was still nowhere to be found. The Yankees are typically very secretive on player injuries, but eventually it came out that Garcia’s slight oblique injury, something the Yankees are very cautious about with pitchers, had caused him to have a bit of arm soreness. When he finally returned to the mound, Garcia was in the GCL for a short while, where he had his version of Spring Training, and then returned to the SAL. Garcia performed much better than he had at the level in ’05, due in large part to throwing more strikes. When it was all said and done he had compiled a 4:1 GB:FB ratio as well as struck out 25.7% of the hitters he faced. Garcia was then sent to the HBL for some winter fine-tuning where he was expected to continue to dominate, but ended up giving up lots of walks and runs. Garcia ran into a bit of bad luck with his defense, as did many of the other Yankee HBL hurlers, but the BB problem would soon be identified.

What Lies Ahead: The source of Christian Garcia’s problem was fixed with elbow surgery. While Garcia was healthy for his short stint in the Yankee system in 2004, he has battled injury the past two years, with this latest one obviously being the greatest blow. While elbow surgery is not nearly the concern it was years ago, and for many prospects wouldn’t be seen as a huge blow, I consider it to be the case with Christian Garcia. Prior to the word coming out on his surgery, I had him ranked in my Top 10, which was the standard for him at the time, but I had to drop him a lot since then. The consistent injuries are concern enough, but coupled with questions about his makeup, I’m leery of his chances at making it back and fulfilling his potential. There were some in the Yankee organization that prior to this year felt Garcia would not live up to his talent due to not having the dedication to do so and he apparently did little to quell those fears this year whether it was during the rehab, the regular season, or winter league. I would not expect him to pitch in 2007, except for perhaps a return to the HBL, assuming dedication and good luck in the recovery process. We’ll see how that goes.

Grade: On a rate basis, Garcia’s 2006 was dominating. Lots of groundballs, lots of strikeouts, just the way I like it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to compile the impressive counting numbers due to injury. Even more unfortunately, he still has makeup concerns to answer. I like Garcia’s potential. Lesser Homer Bailey like his potential. Unfortunately, there seem to be too many questions piling up about him, but based off of his physical talent, he must be kept on the list. C+

Zach McAllister #21