2009 Cardinals Prospect #9 – Jaime Garcia

The system's top left-handed pitcher had Tommy John surgery but will he be back stronger in 2010? Today's article is FREE!

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2008 and career stats)

2008 ranking: #3

Position: SP

DOB: 7/8/1986

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 200

Bats: Left

Throws: Left

School: Sharyland High School, Mission, Texas

Became a Cardinal: Selected in the 22nd round of the June, 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Selected 2008 stats

SPR 3 2 2.06 6 6 0 35 26 10 0 16 41 2.33 0.206
MEM 4 4 4.44 13 12 0 71 74 41 6 26 59 1.98 0.270
Tot 7 6 3.65 19 18 0 106 100 51 6 42 100 2.07 0.250
StL 1 1 5.63 10 1 0 16 14 10 4 8 8 2.33 0.233

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (7): The Cardinals top starting pitcher prospect, Garcia fell in the rankings due to recent Tommy John surgery. If healthy, he would provide great insurance should Chris Carpenter not be ready in 2009. Instead, the organization has to explore the free agent market for pitching depth.

Garcia projects as a solid middle of the rotation starter who possesses a heavy fastball and spike curveball. The late round find of the 2005 draft, he had a roller coaster Major League debut. He started off solidly but struggled in two of his last three appearances. Even so, he held big league hitters to a .233 average and gave Cardinal fans a glimpse into the future.

Admittedly, most players come back and sometimes even stronger after Tommy John surgery. Even so, it still a major surgery. The Cardinals will have to be patient with the southpaw and let him gear up for 2010.

Ray Mileur (14): I considered Garcia the Cardinals best pitching prospect, with it being a bonus that he's a left-hander, Garcia made his major league debut in 2008 in July. He pitched in 10 games for the Cardinals, including one start, posting a record of 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA. Garcia spilt playing time in the minors between Springfield and Memphis posting a combined minor league record of 7-6 with a 3.65 ERA. Expected by many to be a key member of the Cardinals pitching staff in 2009, Garcia's season in 2008 was cut short in early September because of ligament replacement surgery on his pitching elbow. Garcia will likely miss most, if not all of the 2009 season, rehabbing from his surgery at the Cardinals training complex in Jupiter, Florida, while the Cardinals look outside the organization for some lefties to add to the major league staff in 09. I remember being almost sick to my stomach hearing that Garcia was going to have to surgery. I ranked him lower than my distinguished colleagues, only because of his surgery. Hopefully Garcia will be given a chance to make the Cardinals starting rotation in spring training of 2011.

Message board community (6): Garcia's 2009 ranking is clouded by his late 2008 Tommy John surgery. The weighting of that on his prospect status did not escape the Birdhouse community voters. Garcia was rated as high as 3rd by some before settling in at #6.

Garcia pitched well enough across 2 minor league levels (AA/AAA) to get a major league call up during the season. He pitched respectably there but he was hampered by giving up 4 HR's in 16 innings. This was consistent with his minor league struggles this year that showed a decreasing ground ball rate.

Garcia most likely will miss all of 2009 with his injury and return in 2010 if his rehab goes well. It will be most interesting to see where Garcia ranks in the 2010 prospect rankings as he will be much closer to returning but will have no 2009 statistics to rely on. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (9): What do you do when you know a guy won't contribute in the coming season? My answer is that since many players come back stronger than ever following Tommy John surgery, I am not ready to lose faith that Garcia can't still step up and claim a middle of the rotation spot sometime in 2010.

Regarding Garcia's near term prospects, you may as well write off 2009. Here is what Cards Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow told me in September just after the surgery.

"It's going to be a long time (until Garcia can throw again). He's got to go through the entire recuperation and rehabilitation process. It is typically 11 to 12 months, so I would expect sometime around this time next year."

Memphis' season will be over by then and there seems no way Garcia's return will begin in St. Louis. See you in 2010, Jaime!

To see our entire list of 40 prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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