New York Yankees: How has wonder-kid Deivi Garcia looked this spring?

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

When it comes to talent, there are few young pitchers in the major league with as much of it as Deivi Garcia. Garcia skyrocketed up the ladder in the New York Yankees farm system and found himself at AAA at the end of last season — at the age of 20.

What makes Deivi special — and the results in 2019

There’s no doubt that he has the raw skill and stuff necessary to compete at the Major League level, but there are a mass amount of doubters who have their worries. For starters, Deivi is only 5’9, 165, and his stuff isn’t overpowering. With that, Garcia managed to rise through the ranks and garner the attention of every team in baseball. Despite his small frame, Garcia dominated the minor leagues with his lively fastball that sits at 92-95 MPH and a filthy 70-grade curveball that knocks off nearly twenty miles-per-hour from his fastball and drops out of the zone. Those two plus pitches led to an astounding K Rate throughout the three levels that he competed at this last year — at 45% K Rate in High A, 37% in AA, and 26% in AAA. The down with that is that his walk rate was over 11% at all levels last season.

His ERA and FIP splits indicate that he was far better than the traditional stat line showed until he got to AAA. I believe that Garcia’s fast track to AAA was a bit rushed, but not a bad decision. He was dominating in AA and A+, as his FIP was lower than 3.00 in both, and his K/9 didn’t fall below 14.00. When it comes to Garcia, many people view him as an ace in the making, but there are an equal amount of people that see him as a middle man in the rotation.

Garcia’s Spring Training performances

However, with that coming into Spring Training — with the Severino injury, Paxton injury, and German suspension — Garcia has a chance to make the roster Opening Day. His performances in Spring have been monitored closely, and I was able to attend the game on Wednesday afternoon versus the Marlin & watch him in person. The first thing I noticed with Garcia is that his delivery is slightly shortened from last season and that Matt Blake is working with him a lot.

Garcia’s Spring performance goes as such: 7.1 IP / 7.36 ERA / 8 K’s / 2 BB

That performance line may seem gaudy — as his ERA sits at 7.36 through only 7.1 IP. I am happy to see that he hasn’t had as many problems with the walks thus far, although I will say after having watched him pitch, he does miss the zone a good portion of the time. Essentially, Garica is performing about how I expected him to. While I view him as a potential ace for the future, in the now, he is still in need of fine-tuning. He is turning 21 at the beginning of this year, and the future looks blindingly bright for him. There should be no expectations of him dominating the competition in Spring Training, or expectations of him making it on the Opening Day roster.

Garcia’s fastball velocity has been sitting right around 92-94 MPH for a majority of Spring Training. However, his curveball has been straight-up lethal. One thing I have noticed is that in ST, there are a large number of players that swing away at breaking stuff to try and time it correctly, in preparation for the season. With that, Garcia gets a lot of swing and misses on pitches in the dirt, or well out of the zone, because of such. I would expect Garcia to start the year in AAA, as I feel that would be best for him as a player, and for the Yankees as a team as well.

Tamper Expectations with Garcia

Even with the injuries that have been presented at the very early stages of Spring Training, tossing Garcia into a situation that he may not be ready for, is in no way the smart move. Add to that the service time rules and possible manipulation — if he is to be needed right away, he would be sent down for a few weeks to get that extra year of control — and that is enough to hold him back for just a bit longer. Whether that means we see him sooner rather than later, or if we don’t see him until expanded rosters in September, Deivi will be on the team at some point this year. I would personally rather bring up either Michael King or Clarke Schmidt instead, as both are older and have more experience under their belt. The window for King is closing, so I look for him to be a bullpen arm/spot starter at times this season. As for Schmidt, he would have to be in the running for the fifth man in the rotation spot, along with Jonathan Loaisiga, and the talked-about, Deivi Garcia.

Deivi may have the highest ceiling of the previously mentioned bunch, but he is also the youngest — and by a few years. While he has the stuff and talent to be effective, whenever and whatever situation he’s tossed into, Garcia needs to chisel out some things in the minor leagues. For one to doubt his build, as he is on the smaller side, I would like to mention Sonny Gray and fellow Yankee- Jonathan Loaisiga. While there is cause for concern and the natural inclination to have more ‘faith’ in a bigger, sturdier pitcher, regardless of his height, Garcia is a born competitor. He throws with suave touch, but also an electrifying delivery and quick whip of the arm. His movement and deception with his fastball that lacks that ‘oomph’ that so many pitchers have today makes up for it ten-fold. As for his breaking ball, it’s very similar to that of Sonny Gray’s, but I’d venture to say it could be even better. Gray’s breaking ball last year had a Fangraphs Pitch Value of 9.6 — the second-highest single pitch value across his entire career. Ultimately, that led to Sonny putting together a fantastic bounce-back season with the Reds — and saw both his Curveball and Slider become two dominant pitches.

Look for Garcia to continue making improvements, and keep in mind that he is only 20 years old. His future can only go up from here, and it looks as if the Yankees are going to do anything and everything in their power to help his transition to the Majors be as smooth as possible.