Pair of rookies out to cement spots on A's roster

July 17th, 2022

HOUSTON -- Once seen as a promising prospect of the 2014 international signing class with a future in the Yankees’ organization, Dermis Garcia ended up making his MLB debut for the A’s eight years later.

The raves for Garcia were at an all-time high in 2014, as he was ranked the No. 1 international prospect by  

Garcia, who was 16 years old at the time, drew comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and Shawon Dunston. The Yankees saw that potential and signed Garcia for $3.2 million.   

He never lived up to what the Yankees were hoping for, and they let him hit free agency in November 2021. It led to the A’s signing him to a Minor League contract and inviting him to Spring Training in ‘22.

The A’s gave Garcia what he had been waiting for since he started playing baseball at the age of 9 -- an opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. His first game as a starter was not exactly what he had hoped for, as he went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts in the A’s 5-0 loss to the Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, but that did not matter to the 24-year-old.  

“I’m just so thankful for this opportunity,” Garcia said. “It’s just emotional for me. I’m thankful to this organization for giving me this chance to start.”

Like many international signees, the transition to the United States was hard on Garcia, as he had to leave behind his family. Those challenges may have factored into the slow start Garcia had in his first year in pro ball, when he slashed .159/.256/.188 in 23 games in the Gulf Coast League. 

Time will tell if his power and bat will live up to his potential, but Garcia has a chance to prove he is worthy of a spot on an A's team that is in the midst of rebuilding -- an opportunity afforded to every guy in the clubhouse, including Saturday’s starter, Jared Koenig.

Koenig is in his second stint with the A’s after being recalled from Triple-A on Tuesday. He entered with a 6.38 ERA in four starts (18 1/3 innings) with the big league club this season.

The start was not going to be easy for Koenig, as he faced a dangerous lineup in the AL West leaders. Things appeared to spiral out of control when Koenig loaded the bases on back-to-back singles from Yuli Gurriel and Jake Meyers and a walk issued to Chas McCormick in the second inning. It set the stage for Martín Maldonado, who crushed an 88.9 mph sinker to center field for a grand slam.

But Koenig settled down the rest of the way, going seven innings and allowing just one more run in the fourth inning on an RBI single to McCormick. Koenig ended up with the loss, as the offense was shut out by Astros ace Justin Verlander and three relievers despite outhitting Houston, 7-6.

One of those hits was Garcia’s single off Verlander in the fifth inning. It was the second hit of Garcia’s career, as he doubled in the 12th inning in his MLB debut against the Rangers on Tuesday. Moments like these have shown the potential that scouts saw in him in 2014 and why the A’s are taking a chance on him now. 

“These guys are getting the opportunity to earn their time here and show what they can do,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Dermis’ hits have come off of some good pitching, which is a good sign. He’s a kid that got here and has worked hard since then.”