Name: Matt Garza
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: November 11, 1983
The Twins selected Matt Garza as their first round pick during the 2005 June Draft, and he appears to be a great selection. Out of Fresno State, Garza has made a rapid rise through the Minnesota Twins farm system, and is poised to be a mainstay in the Twins rotation for years to come. Very mature for his age, Garza should be back in Minnesota at some point during the 2007 season.
Garza's collegiate career got off to a slow start for Fresno State, as he looked overmatched as a freshman. He posted only one win, against six losses, and had a 9.55 earned run average. Due to his makeup, Garza overcame eye surgery and naysayers, to turn himself into one of the better pitchers in college baseball over his last two seasons. He is also the kind of kid that knows about responsibility, being a young father and husband.
He began his professional career with the Elizabethton Twins, and quickly showed he did not belong in the Appalachian League. He made four starts for the Twins, and showed that he was ready for the next level. In his four starts, Garza went 1-1, posted a 3.65 earned run average, and struck out 25 batters in 20 innings of work.
After his call-up to Beloit of the Midwest League, Garza continued to impress, joining some of the best prospects in the organization in Beloit's starting rotation.
He started ten games for the Snappers during the 2005 season, and again finished with an ERA well below 4.00. He also struck out better than a batter per inning, and finished the year as then tenth best prospect in the Midwest League.
In 56 innings of work, Garza struck out 64 batters, en-route to winning three games.
In 2006, Garza was named Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year, after dominating on every level he pitched in. He began the year with the Fort Myers Miracle, and quickly established himself as the best starting pitcher in the league. He made eight starts for the Miracle, posting a 1.42 earned run average, and was named to the Florida State League All-Star Game. In 44 innings, Garza struck out 56 batters, and held the opposition to a .169 batting average.
He promptly promoted to the New Britain Rock Cats, where he once again was named to the league's All-Star Team. Garza made ten starts for the Cats, winning six, and posted a 2.51 earned run average. He struck out 13 batters during his Eastern League debut, and did not let up there. He held the opposition to a .190 batting average, struck out 68 batters in 57 innings, and walked only 14.
After New Britain, Garza made his third stop of the season, joining the rotation in Rochester towards the end of the season. The young right-hander made five starts, winning three, while posting a 1.85 earned run average. He held International League batters to a .174 batting average, and struck out 33 batters in 34 innings of work. The Twins needed some help in the rotation towards the end of the season, and Garza was promoted to the Major Leagues.
Garza appeared in ten games for the Twins, making nine starts, and he did struggle a bit. That is to be expected for a kid who started the year in High-A, and he showed good poise during his struggles with the big league club. Garza posted a 5.76 earned run average in the big leagues, striking out 38 batters in 50 innings of work, and really impressed the Twins scout.
Garza will begin the 2007 season as a member of the Rochester Red Wings, though he should be in Minnesota sooner than later.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Curveball, Changeup
Fastball. Garza has a great fastball, and he has used it to really rack up the strikeouts during his time in the Minnesota Twins farm system. When he is on, he can dial that heater up into the high-90s, and he really has gained tremendous command of it. He was great during his time with the Twins during Spring Training, and his fastball is a main reason for it. He relies on it in any count, and has complete confidence in it. If he stays healthy, it should be one of the top fastballs of any starting pitcher in the International League in 2007.
Other Pitches. Garza has a nice assortment of breaking stuff, but his main problem is a reluctance to rely on them in crucial situations. Due to this, he relies on his fastball too much, and than will get him into trouble as he goes higher and higher through the system. Still, his slider is a good one, being clocked in the mid 80s, and his changeup is showing the potential to be a solid pitch in his arsenal. Add those pitches to a high 70s curveball, and you have the makings of a pretty lethal repertoire.
Pitching. If there is one thing that the scouts would change about Garza, it is his reluctance to trust his pitches. However, he is the consummate professional, who is one of the hardest workers in the entire Twins organization. He wants to succeed, and it is because of that that he will. He is also a bulldog on the mound, as he tries to get the very best out of himself with every start. He is the kind of kid that knows what kind of opportunity he has, and he goes out there every day to prove to the Minnesota Twins that they made the right choice by making him a first round selection.
Projection. Garza projects as a starting pitcher, and that is exactly where the Twins like him. He has tremendous stamina, and once he uses his entire arsenal, will have one of the better repertoires in the farm system. He also looked sharp in his Major League camp start during Spring Training, which had a lot of Twins' brass excited about the future. Garza will continue to eat innings, and you will never see him come out of the bullpen once he earns a spot in the Twins rotation. He has a bulldog type mentality, and gives it his all every time out.
ETA. 2007. Garza will be back with the Twins at some point during the 2007 season, it is only a matter of when. The Twins do not know what to expect from Carlos Silva, and some of their other starters, and Gardenhire will be quick to call on Garza if any one of his starters falter. He is one of the future starters for the Twins, and the Twins cannot wait to have him pitching every fifth day for the team.