Prospect #19 - LHP Victor Garate

Other than the MLB clubs themselves, only baseball junkies pay much attention to the Rule V draft and when the Dodgers called Victor Garate's name in the 2007 draft, the pickup didn't make much of a ripple. A tall (6-1), slight (185) lefthander, Garate came complete with the a 6.43 ERA and having walked 35 inn 42 innings during the season.

But the Dodgers' scouting staff saw something they liked and after the 2008 season, many others liked him, too.

6-2 185 BL TL
Born- September 26, 1984 in Maracay, Venezuela
Birthplace: Maracay, Venezuela
Obtained- Selected in Rule V draft from Houston 2007

Born in Venezuela and signed by Houston, Garate reached the United States in 2005 at the age of 20 and debuted with Greenville, the Astro's rookie team. He went 4-1 with a 5.57 ERA, walking 26 in 31.2 innings. However, he held opponents to a .112 average and struck out 53, a 13.50 clip per nine innings.

Advanced to the Tri-City Valleycats in 2006 he was 0-0 with eight saves pitching in relief. He had a microscopic 0.92 ERA, fanned opponents at a 12.40 clip per nine innings while allowing only 14 hits in 39 innings and saving eight games.

Opening again at Tri-City in 2007, he recorded a 3-1, 3.31 record and then advanced to the Lexington Legends, Houston's High-A team, where he was 3-1 again but had a 5.43 earned run average. Between the two clubs he 6-2 with a 5.06 ERA, although he struck out 86 in 74.2 innings.

Then he was left unprotected in the Rule V draft and the Dodgers quickly snatched him up.

Now 23, he started the season with Great Lakes and pretty much had his way with Midwest League batters, posting a 1.85 ERA while winning six games while pitching mostly as a starter. He started the season in the bullpen before making his first start on May 17.

His strikeouts blossomed to 103 in 77.2 innings and he knocked over four walks per nine innings off his 2007 record.

Against Lansing on July 5th, the 23-year-old left-hander recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts over six innings and Garret White fanned six the rest of the way to set a franchise record (18) as the Loons defeated the Lugnuts, 6-3.

Garate moved his record to 6-3 while yielded two runs on three hits in the opening frame, then allowed only three hits while striking out 10 over the next five innings. He notched his first win since June 3 and lowered his ERA to 2.03, which ranked fifth in the Midwest League.

"He made a couple of mistakes in the first inning, but after that, he settled down," Loons pitching coach Danny Darwin said. "He had a lot of movement and running action on his fastball tonight. He locates his fastball well and he was using both sides of the plate tonight. He's a different type pitcher. His fastball is in the low-90s and tonight he used his breaking ball and changeup well. He did a good job staying ahead of the hitters."

"His stuff was really running and the righties were swinging through it," said Darwin. "It's his first time starting in pro ball and he's done a good job so far. We expect good things from him. That's why he's here."

Quickly the Dodgers had seen enough and on July 22, promoted him to Inland Empire. He had allowed two earned runs or less in each of his last seven starts, going 2-2 with a 1.54 ERA (7 ER/41.0 IP) in that span The 23-year-old was 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA (13 ER/66.0 IP) in 12 starts since being converted to a full-time starter.

The move up to High A wasn't as kind as he'd hoped, although a 4.70 ERA in the California League is respectable. Armed with an average fastball, a very good changeup and a deceptive delivery, Garate seems to profile best as a reliever in the majors but he has had most of his success as a starter.

Garate led the Dodger minor league system in 2008 with a 2.79 ERA and 150 strikeouts in a combined 116.0 innings with Great Lakes and Inland Empire. Garate is 23-6 with 11 saves and a 3.50 ERA in 107 minor league games (19 starts) in four seasons overall.  He has logged 348 strikeouts in 262.1 innings, an average of 11.94 strikeouts per nine innings.

To start him or use him in relief is a pleasant task the Dodgers will undertake in 2009, but it seems as if there is a slight essence of Preacher Roe swirling around him -- at least the two of them have pretty much identical stuff.

He'll be 24 and probably start the season with Inland Empire again but could move up quickly if his past performances are any indication.

Victor Garate

year	team     w-l   era  gm  gs sv  in   h  bb   so  whip
2005	Hou rk   4-1  5.57  19   0  0  32  21  26   53  1.45
2006	Hou A-   0-0  0.92  21   0  8  39  14  21   59  0.90  
2007	Hou A-   3-1  3.31  17   0  2  33  31   7   42  1.61    		
	Hou A    3-1  6.43  26   0  1  42  47  35   41  1.95
2008	GLakes   6-3  1.85  17  12  0  78  61  28  103  1.15
	IEmpire  3-0  4.70   7   7  0  37   4  14   47  1.51
  Totals        19-6  3.50 107  19 11 262 218 131  248  1.33