No sooner did I put together a post detailing my top 15 rookie starting pitchers for the rest of the 2020 season than the Yankees decided to call up one of my favorite pitching prospects in right-hander Deivi Garcia. Now, many of you may already know about my public love affair with New York’s Clarke Schmidt, but we haven’t discussed Garcia as much as we maybe should have over here on Razzball. For that reason, I’ve graciously offered to Clarke and Deivi that I am willing to turn said love affair into a love triangle, so long as Deivi answers my calls. But here’s my number, so call me Deivi. Please. No, really. I’m begging you. Call me. No? Okay. Anywho, here’s what I saw from Garcia in his MLB debut and what I expect from the youngster moving forward.
Let’s begin with two important points. One: I’m not a Yankees fan and you’ll never find team-based bias in any of my posts. Two: although the Pinstripes will only have Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino penciled into the rotation for 2021, the future is bright as it relates to the starting five in the Bronx. The reason for this is that both Schmidt and Garcia look to be developing into legitimate front-line starters, with the latter maybe being closer to realizing that potential than many thought — myself included. In case you missed it, here’s a brief recap of Deivi’s major league debut.
Deivi Garcia, have a debut ?
6? K ?pic.twitter.com/yi0sJd1CO7
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 31, 2020
You get a good look at almost all of Garcia’s arsenal in that clip: the fastball, curveball and changeup. The only thing missing is the 55-grade slider, which typically sits in the mid 80s. As for the other three, let’s start with the fastball. In the above clip, you can see Garcia get three strikeouts with the heater at 94 MPH, which is pretty common velo for him, as he works anywhere from 91-97 MPH with the pitch. The fastball comes with excellent spin rates that results in impressive riding action and Garcia has shown a respectable, albeit inconsistent ability to command it early on in his pro career. Even in that abbreviated clip, you can see Garcia working both sides of the plate with the heater, which is a good sign since he’ll need to do so consistently to be successful moving forward. The fastball is good enough for him to be a future No. 2 starter, but only if he spots it in and out effectively to adequately compliment the rest of his offerings.
Next, we have the deuce. Garcia’s curveball just might be the best of any rookie hurler in the game right now, although that’s as arbitrary as ever with how talented the first-year player pool is at present. But take a look at the one strikeout the above clip didn’t include from Deivi’s debut.
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) August 30, 2020
It’s a beaut, and when located properly with the fastball command on point, it’s virtually unhittable in that spot. As it stands today, the curveball (65) grades out as Garcia’s best offering. In fact, his curveball features so much depth that the key for Garcia lies in learning how to consistently locate it down in the zone. Early in his career, he’s shown that this is more of a chase pitch. Garcia has struggled to get called strikes on it and, perhaps, may still be wrestling with how to keep it in the zone without hanging it up there to dry. Still, it’s an utterly gorgeous pitch and one of the primary reasons Garcia came into 2020 as a consensus top 100 prospect.
The changeup (50) and slider (55) round out the arsenal, with the former featuring some fading action that can be observed in the first clip — but nothing overwhelming. The slider is his fourth pitch at present, but could evolve into a tertiary offering as he learns to command it — he only introduced the slider to his arsenal last season.
To many, command is one of two keys to Garcia thriving as a starter rather than a reliever. Last season, his BB/9 jumped up to 4.4, one season after he achieved a strong 2.4 mark in 2018. The command was never really a concern before last year, as Garcia churned out a 2.9 BB/9 during his first season of pro ball in 2017. After a MLB debut in which he struck out six and walked zero, concerns have been alleviated — but should not be overtly forgotten. Young players often struggle with command in the Minors and eventually make the necessary mechanical adjustments.
For Garcia, such adjustments will likely dictate how usable he is in fantasy at the onset of his career and beyond. Fantasy owners beware: Deivi is not Sixto Sanchez. He does not have the command and polish that Sixto has. He’s much further away, in my opinion, from being a refined front-line starter. As he opens up and delivers to the plate, he has a tendency to open up on his front-lower half towards the first base line. You can tell there is strength in his lower half, he simply needs to maximize it. If he can, he should allow for his upper half to stay closed, thus forcing his front elbow to maintain a more athletic position. This will help him to work consistently in the strike zone more — although that wasn’t much of an issue in his debut outing. It’s something he can work through, but even so, I expect him to have bumps similar to Luis Severino and Jose Berrios early in his career, where you can see the potential and absurd movement, but sometimes the results are tough to look at.
The other key to Deivi’s future as a front-line starter is the durability tied to his size. At just 5-foot-9 and 163 pounds, it’s not unreasonable to think maybe he’s better suited for the bullpen, where he could ride the mid 90s heater up to 97-98 MPH in short stints. However, don’t forget that the prototype for an MLB starter is changing. With increased analytics, teams are realizing that a smaller frame means a rarer release point, which translates to pitches being harder to pick up — something hitters already struggle to do with Garcia, as he hides the ball well throughout his delivery. But if you really think modern front offices care about starting pitchers being tall the same way they did one decade ago, remember that the first pitcher selected in the 2020 MLB Draft, Max Meyer, is 5-foot-11 at best. Times are a changin’, folks.
Throughout three years in the Minors, Garcia posted excellent numbers: 3.37 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 12.7 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 over 293 2/3 innings. Of his 65 career Minor League games, 57 of those appearances came as a starter. On top of that, you have the intangibles. Garcia has the makeup and balls as big as a donkey (sorry Donkey Teeth, only real donkeys). It didn’t look like the nerves got to him at all in his debut. He looked as cool as Grey sipping boba outside his guest house on a summer day. That’s not something we can measure, or that fantasy analysts can live by, but it means something.
Personally, I don’t have any shares of Garcia in dynasty formats — but I would like to. Now might be the wrong time to buy, since he was terrific in his debut and fantasy managers tend to overreact and fall in love, but the future looks pretty bright for this kid. Expect him to be up and down throughout September as the Yankees do some roster juggling, but he projects to be an enticing redraft target so long as his rest-of-season performance doesn’t water-log his relative draft value. If this was a security check, I’d tell you to pack. But in the short term, your smartest move is to live and die by the Streamonator. The Streamonator should be your equivalent to the magical ball of light in the sky worshiped by the Neanderthals. Follow it unequivocally and praise it unconditionally for the life it breathes into your world. Do not question it. Simply be.
As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.