NEW YORK — The New York Yankees may not have added any pitching at the trade deadline, but intriguing prospect Deivi Garcia has put himself into prime consideration for a September call-up.
“You don’t find 20-year-olds who pitch in Triple-A,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Yahoo Sports. “He’s really climbed the ladder. And he’s recognized as our No. 1 prospect based on interest by the industry.”
Several teams inquired about Garcia’s availability at the trade deadline.
But despite the fact that none of their prospects were deemed “untouchable,” the Yankees were unable to match-up with any team on a deal to upgrade their staff, leaving the 5-foot-9, 163-pound righty with a legitimate shot at joining the team as a reliever in the final month of the season.
“I don’t know yet,” Cashman replied when asked about Garcia being promoted to the majors, with MLB rosters eligible to be expanded starting on Sunday.
“We’re auditioning him [in the bullpen at Triple-A Scranton] to get an evaluation, but he’s put himself in a position to be considered.”
Signed by the Yankees for $100,000 in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic, Garcia had a star-worthy performance in June, striking out a career-high 15 in a six-inning gem for Double-A Trenton.
Overall, he has posted a combined 5-9 record and a 4.19 ERA in the minors (24 games, 21 starts), while fanning a staggering 161 in 107 1/3 innings.
In two recent relief outings for Triple-A Scranton, he has allowed three runs and struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings.
Garcia currently possesses a four-pitch mix, having recently added a slider to his repertoire. He also features a mid-90s fastball along with a curveball and changeup.
“His makeup is off the charts,” Cashman said. “He’s constantly in attack mode. He has no fear.”
Even so, several evaluators believe Garcia projects as a No. 3-5 starter, possibly a setup man.
This pitch from Deivi Garcia is absurd. pic.twitter.com/cMaXKlDiWz— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) July 16, 2019
Naturally, there are concerns about his size and durability — as has been the case for so many shorter pitchers before him. Last season, Garcia threw 74 innings in the minors — hence the Yankees moving him to the bullpen to limit his innings.
One evaluator compared Garcia to Tom “Flash” Gordon — also a 5-foot-9 righty — who had a strong MLB career as both a starter and reliever.
“He’s got a big arm, but he’s a short guy and his fastball tends to be a little flat,” said another evaluator who saw Garcia in 2019. “His secondary stuff is good but inconsistent. And he needs to locate better.”
Like so many throughout the sport, Garcia has also had his ups and downs adapting to the new baseball, with its lower seams and different slickness.
Regardless, as Yankees vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring put it: “He’s obviously advanced beyond his years. In our player development meetings, there was a push to get him to Triple-A and face advanced hitters and see how he handles that.
“He’s had a very good year, and he should be proud of what he’s been able to accomplish jumping all these different levels and potentially helping the major-league club.”
Breakdown of Yankees’ pitching pipeline
In recent years, the Yankees have had mixed results with their pitching prospects.
That move itself has looked like a smart one so far — even as Paxton has endured an up-and-down first year in pinstripes.
Sheffield, though, has since pitched poorly and was demoted to Double-A Arkansas by the Seattle Mariners before recently rejoining the roster. Still, after getting shelled by the Yankees on Wednesday, he owns a 7.94 ERA in three MLB appearances in 2019.
Righty Chance Adams, 25, also hasn’t been able to live up to lofty expectations so far, shuttling between Triple-A Scranton and the major-league team when the Yankees need an extra bullpen arm.
Behind Garcia, the Yankees also have the likes of Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina, Luis Gil and Yoendrys Gomez in the pitching pipeline.
Deivi Garcia strikes out Micheal Chavis.— sean corby (@SEANC0RBY) August 27, 2019
Michael King, injured for much of the 2019 campaign, has also pitched well at Triple-A Scranton since his return.
Medina, a 20-year-old righty now with High-A Tampa, might have the most upside of the group. He possesses electric stuff, but struggled to harness it in the first half of the year — enduring command and control issues before turning it around in the second half.
“We’ve been waiting on him,” Cashman said of Medina (0.40 ERA in August, 5.47 overall).
Schmidt, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, has shown flashes recently with Double-A Trenton (2.37 ERA in three starts) but needs to prove he can stay healthy.
“There’s no denying the stuff is real, it’s just a matter of getting proper reps,” Naehring said of the 23-year-old righty, who has future big-league starter potential.
The team’s success in the playoffs could ultimately hinge on the return of righty Luis Severino, who will have a minor-league rehab outing on Sunday with Double-A Trenton. Severino (rotator cuff, lat) has yet to pitch this season, however, and it’s unknown exactly how much of a load he’ll be able to shoulder.
Reliever Dellin Betances (lat) and Severino could both be back by mid-September, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has said.
The final month of the year will be about getting the team ready for October.
The rotation — with Masahiro Tanaka, Paxton, Domingo Germán and perhaps a Chad Green-Severino combo — is more of a question mark. The bullpen — with Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman at the back-end — less so.
September would certainly be a lot more intriguing with Deivi Garcia added to that mix, pitching in pinstripes.
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