Latin America hasn't been a place of overwhelming success for the Phillies. In recent years, they have worked to get a foothold in the region and their efforts are beginning to pay off. The first big payoff may be Edgar Garcia. The 17 year old signed with the Phillies this past October and has yet to make his professional debut. No matter. Garcia is the real thing and the Phillies believe that he is the equivalent of a second round pick in the draft. Needless to say, they're excited for his pro debut.
Signing Garcia was somewhat of a milestone for the Phillies, considering that there were no less than five other teams hot on the trail of the young right-hander. Some people around baseball have compared the signing of Garcia and the Phillies official entry into the Latin American market to the signing of Seung Lee and Il Kim out of Korea. Those signings were supposed to signal the start of the Phillies' entry into the Asian market, but both players faded quickly and the Phillies haven't established much of an Asian presence since. This signing is different though because Garcia is thought to be a higher quality and more projectable type pitcher.
Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent in October, 2004.
Repertoire: Garcia can push his fastball into the mid-90 mile per hour range, but generally throws around 92 or 93 miles per hour. He's a big kid (6' 2", 190) and will likely fill out more and develop more velocity, pushing him to the mid-90s with no problem. He has a curveball that freezes hitters and generates a lot of ground balls because of its sharp break. Garcia also throws a change-up, but that pitch is lacking greatly in comparison to his other pitches. The Phillies will work with Garcia on developing more deception with his change this spring.
Pitching: Most of the flaws in Garcia's game come from youth and inexperience. He can get flustered on the mound and lose sight of the abilities that he has, but again, maturity should help him to change that down the road. When things are going well, he can be downright nasty with how he throws and has somewhat of a bulldog mentality. His mechanics are almost amazing for a 17 year old. He has a smooth delivery and the only chink in the armor is that he tends to throw from different arm angles and tips some of his pitches. Again, very fixable.
Projection: It's likely that Garcia will have to wait until the short-season leagues start to make his pro debut. The Phillies will probably keep him in the Gulf Coast League, closer to their base, so they can watch him a little closer than if he were in Batavia. By the end of the summer though, they'll likely want to give him some exposure at least in Batavia, and possibly in Lakewood. As for his long-term projection, Garcia can be a top of the rotation type pitcher, possibly a strong staff ace in the majors.
ETA: Keep in mind that Garcia is only 17. He needs some work and his progress will be determined by how quickly he learns and adjusts. He could be getting some consideration in about four years if all goes well. Look for him to progress pretty quickly once he starts to put it all together.
Comparison: Garcia is much too young and raw to draw many comparisons. Some scouts have mentioned comparisons between Garcia and Pedro Martinez when it comes to build and demeanor, but that's only in those two areas. He'll have to show a lot to draw further comparisons to Pedro.