Name: Christian Garcia
DOB: August 24, 1985
Height: 6' 4"
How Acquired: The New York Yankees selected RHP, Christian Garcia in the 3rd round (99th Overall) of the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft. He then was given a $390,000 signing bonus from the Yankees.
The Yankees may have found a big time gem when they drafted Christian Garcia in this year's amateur draft. But, it hard to forget that it was also very possible that some team would also draft him as a top notch catcher. However, with the state of the Yankee farm system, they thought it to be better to have an arm of his caliber on the mound. Right now, it seems like the right choice on their part. Many scouts have said that the draft of Garcia may have been one of the best picks in the entire draft in 2004. He certainly didn't do anything to dispel those thoughts as he dominated in his first taste of professional baseball.
So, through his junior year at Gulliver Prep and even into his senior year, everyone that played against him in Florida certainly knew not to run on him when he was behind the plate. In fact, he was rated being the best Prep throwing catcher in the nation. The 6' 4" Garcia certainly didn't look to have the build of a catcher but was still a tremendous talent there. He registered pop times of 1.87 on his throws. But, by the time he was part way through his junior year, the coaching staff began to realize their might be a better use for a guy with an arm like Garcia.
It started innocently enough when Garcia pitched his first inning at a national showcase where many scouts were dazzled by his performance. "My dad would never let me (pitch) when I was little because he didn't want me to mess up my arm," Garcia told Baseball America. But, that all changed quickly when his Gulliver prep coach, Lazaro Collazo, approached Garcia before the season in 2004 and asked him if he wanted to become a full time pitcher. Even though his lifetime dream was to become a Major League catcher, the lanky righty was willing to make the change and according to scouts it was the right one to make. "He has a great pitcher's body and obvious arm strength," one scout said. Here is what Garcia had to say when he was presented with the idea of actually being drafted as a pitcher. "A scout said, 'We know you love catching but would you mind if we drafted you as a pitcher?' " Garcia said. "I said no, I want to play in the major leagues, no matter what position. I told him I'll sweep benches in the major leagues. Whatever it takes to get there."
At the beginning of the season, Coach Collazo knew what kind of talent he had before him but he also knew that it would take some mechanical refinement to truly meet his potential. Collazo is know throughout the state of Florida as a pitching focused coach and most of the credit has to be given to him for successfully converting his talented catcher into an ace pitcher. By mid spring, he had helped smooth out his rough delivery and got the righthander throwing free and easy. Therefore, he was picking up that extra movement on his pitches that have put him over the top. Collazo also credits Garcia's experience behind the plate to some of the intelligence that he brings to the mound. As amazing as it may sound, Garcia became the immediate ace of the Gulliver Prep Raiders and led them to a Florida Class 3A State Championship as he had a monstrous season in which he went 10-1.
It is not exactly like Christian Garcia was a much anticipated pitching prospect coming into his final prep season. In fact, more of the focus was on him as a catcher. But when a guy is making 90 MPH throws from behind the plate, it is time for a switch. Maybe it is time to say "nice work" to the Yankee scouting department for staying right on top of Garcia's status. The Yankees nabbed him in the 3rd round and were able to lure him away from his college commitment. Then, he was just lights out in the Gulf Coast League as he racked up huge strikeout numbers despite some occasional wildness. Look for Christian Garcia at the top of the Staten Island Yankee rotation next season.
*2004 Prep Stats
*2004 GCL Stats
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup
Fastball. Well, here is exactly the reason that Christian Garcia made the move to the mound. He was the best prep throwing catcher in the nation coming into this season. His arm was so good that it was tested on the mound. Garcia, since then, has been hitting an easy 93 MPH and topping out around 96 MPH. Not only does he have some heat on his fastball but the natural movement and life on his pitches is truly amazing. His heater can sink, dive, cut and it will give any hitter fits. He throws a heavy ball and can get outs on grounders, rack up strikeouts and break a lot of bats. With more and more time on the mound, a scary thought for a hitter, his fastball could probably even add a little more heat.
Other Pitches. Christian Garcia certainly has that big time fastball and that is the reason he is on the mound but we can't forget just what an outstanding repertoire he has. His curveball is considered to be already above average MLB caliber and for his level, it is just about unhittable. With more and more time on the mound, it is only going to get better. The hook is usually around 75-78 MPH. It has a nasty 12-6 drop and has been described as a hammer curve. And, it doesn't stop there. Here is something that, usually, a pitcher like Garcia would have trouble developing, the changeup. Not him though. The big righthander has a highly advanced change that is more than enough to baffle hitter after hitter. Big time, Major league, caliber repertoire already at his very young age.
Pitching. Right now, the only real flaw to point out in Garcia's game is his occasional wildness but that can be more than expected considering this is really his first year as a full time pitcher. Other than that, Garcia is an amazing young talent. He knows his to work inside and can really tie up hitters with his heavy, hard fastball. Garcia, with that curveball and changeup he has, will likely be a big time strikeout pitcher while also picking up a ton of groundballs as well.
Projection. If he can meet his full potential with the great arm that he has, you can bank on Christian Garcia being a front end of the rotation workhorse.
ETA. Late 2008. When a guy is not far removed from being drafted, it makes it all the more difficult to predict just when he ill make it to the big show. For Garcia, there is not a whole lot of doubt that he will get there considering just how special he could turn out to be. Next season, it appears the Yankees have a decision to make on whether he will head the Staten Island rotation or if they want him to pitch a full season in full season Charleston. Either way, by 2006, he should be easily in Tampa, if not even higher. 2007 should have him up in AA and 2008 in AAA. Then, he could have an excellent chance of getting a call up to the show in late 2008.