In his third start of the season at the Triple-A level, Deivi García baffled Lehigh Valley batters for five stellar innings. The Yankees' No. 3 prospect struck out nine, walked one and allowed one unearned run on two hits in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 3-1 victory on Sunday.
García outdueled Phillies No. 1 prospect Spencer Howard in a low-scoring contest; the two starters combined for 17 strikeouts and each yielded two hits and one run in their nine total innings of work.
“Deivi just continues to get better and better each outing that he goes out there. I think he’s confident in his stuff and in all of his pitches,” said RailRiders manager Doug Davis.
The hard throwing righty retired the first eight batters he faced, and his first strikeout came in the second inning on a 1-2 curveball to outfielder Ryan Cordell. He struck out shortstop C.J. Chatham with another breaking ball to end the second.
“Deivi came out with a lot sliders, a lot of off-speed pitches and worked backwards a little on them,” said Scranton/Wilkes-Barre first basemen Chris Gittens. “He was switching it up, curveball, slider, fastball, and I feel like he’s really the reason why we won today. He kept it close and that’s all we need.”
García allowed his first hit of the day with two outs in the third, a single off the bat of catcher Edgar Cabral. The 21-year-old set down left fielder Travis Jankowski to end the third unscathed and added two more strikeouts in the fourth.
The only run García allowed came with two outs in the fifth, when he yanked a wild pitch to allow Cornelius Randolph to score. Randolph had previously reached on a single, and advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw to first from García. The right hander settled down to strike out Cabral to end his outing with a season-high nine punchouts.
García started his year in the big leagues, making a start in Baltimore on April 26 where he went four innings and allowed two earned runs. Sunday’s start was his second consecutive one against Lehigh Valley. He first faced the Iron Pigs on May 11, tossing five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and allowing three hits.
“He’s in the zone. He knows when he gets to the big leagues he gets behind in the count, he can’t just throw fastballs,” said Davis. “He’s got to be able to throw his off-speed pitches to get back in counts and he’s doing that here.”
García’s repertoire consists of four pitches: a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup combination. He demonstrated excellent command of his breaking pitches in Sunday’s start, registering 12 swings and misses and throwing 52 of his 86 pitches for strikes.
“When he finishes those breaking balls off, they’re sharp and hitters don’t take very good swings at them and he gets a lot of chases,” said Davis. “He’s using his slider a lot, he sneaks that fastball in there in situations where they’re not expecting it so the velocity plays up a little bit, and he locates. He throws it at the top of the zone and then he locates it down at the knees.”
García’s ERA sits at 3.38 following his dominant five frames and has set down 19 batters via the strikeout over 13.2 Triple-A innings for a K/9 of 12.83 to start the season. The 5’9” righty owns a batting average against of .182 and a WHIP of 1.28 and could be back on the mound at Yankee Stadium at some point this season.