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Yanks No. 3 prospect Garcia lives up to fanfare

Manager Boone calls 20-year-old's makeup 'kind of off-the-charts'
@Sportsgal25
February 28, 2020

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- There’s a lot riding on Deivi Garcia's first big league Spring Training. Consider this: At just 20 years old, New York’s No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has already put himself in position to break camp with the Yankees as a part of the rotation.

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- There’s a lot riding on Deivi Garcia's first big league Spring Training. Consider this: At just 20 years old, New York’s No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has already put himself in position to break camp with the Yankees as a part of the rotation.

Is that a likely scenario? No. But the fact that he’s even in the conversation speaks volumes about the makeup of a kid who has just four seasons and 65 total games of professional ball under his belt.

“The makeup about him is kind of off-the-charts,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Friday. “Smart, really good aptitude, really good feel for making some adjustments on the mound and picking things up and being able to apply them. … The intangible things about him, you really like.”

There were also a lot of tangible things to like about Garcia’s Grapefruit League debut on Friday, a 5-3 win against the Braves at CoolToday Park. In his first Major League action after skyrocketing through the Minors in 2019, Garcia didn’t flinch against a heavy-hitting Atlanta lineup, striking out three and walking one over his two innings. He allowed just one hit, a two-run home run from Johan Camargo.

It was a welcome beginning to the big league side of things after Garcia went from Class A Advanced to Triple-A in one season.

“[Garcia] certainly earned his way to Triple-A and then had some ups and downs there, but all kind of natural in the progression,” Boone said. “The fact that he shot up the way he did at such a young age, I think, is a tribute to the advanced way in which he pitches.”

He's received high marks all around in his short career, enough so to raise chatter about joining the team in 2020. As Garcia comes along this spring, here are three criteria the Yankees will be looking for and how he answered the call on Friday:

Is he commanding his secondary pitches?

MLB Pipeline noted in its 2020 scouting report that Garcia “has one of the best breaking balls in the Minors, a high-spin curveball with so much depth that he sometimes has difficulty landing it for strikes.” While eight of his 12 pitches called for balls came on offspeed pitches, just two were unhittable, suggesting that Garcia had both command and control of his secondary arsenal on Friday.

If he’s behind in the count, can he battle back?

Garcia wasn’t behind often on Friday. He had a 2-1 count against Braves cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna with two outs in the second inning. In that instance, Garcia used his curveball to jam Ozuna into a bloop foul up the first-base line, then stayed inside with a fastball for his second called third strike of the inning.

In the second frame, Ender Inciarte watched a first-pitch strike sail by him and fouled off three of the next four offerings. The Braves veteran eventually won a free pass after the next three pitches missed their mark to end the eight-pitch battle. It was the only walk Garcia allowed, but it cost him when the next hitter, Camargo, drove a 1-1 offering over the right-field wall.

“[There were] things to clean up and correct and talk about, but overall, I thought he threw the ball really well,” Boone said. “Kind of get a glimpse of why we’re excited about him.”

Is he throwing his fastball where he wants?

Garcia’s fastball was the highlight of his outing. Each of his three strikeouts froze the Braves’ hitters and was set up perfectly by an offspeed offering the pitch before.

“The idea [is], I like to use my fastball and surprise hitters; keep them off-balance,” Garcia said through a translator. “I attack certain ways so that I can surprise them with my fastball. Attack with a well-located fastball, that’s what I did there.”

The three punchout throws came in tight on all three righties -- Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud -- with two of the three making no forward movement to chase.

Before the strikeout, though, Garcia first had to establish a mound presence -- another tip Boone earmarked as a sign of an effective pitcher -- and he did so aggressively, issuing first-pitch strikes to all nine hitters he faced.

Seven of those were fastballs.

Garcia touched on all the key points during his 37-pitch day, showing his intent to fine-tune his repertoire and join the Yankees in New York as soon as possible. Whether that happens in April or August remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: When Garcia gets the chance, he’s prepared to run with it.

“It’s a matter of waiting for that opportunity, and when the opportunity comes, to do your job,” he said.

So far, so good.

Dawn Klemish is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Tampa. Follow her on Twitter @Sportsgal25.