A Humbling Year For Christian Garcia

Armed with two devastating plus pitches that could arguably be the best in the farm system, Christian Garcia's potential is a vast as it gets. As confident as they come, Garcia put together a solid, albeit unspectacular, season with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2005. Instead of focusing on what could have been, he views 2005 as a humbling experience and he's getting ready to break out in 2006.

Christian Garcia owns a plus fastball that sits 92-95 MPH and tops out at 97 MPH. He compliments his fastball with a knee-buckling power knuckle curveball in the 81-84 MPH range. That kind of deadly combo just isn't fair for opposing batters.

Possessing all the talent in the world, even arguably having better stuff than heralded pitching prospect Phil Hughes, Garcia also had the confident attitude to go with his tremendous stuff. But 2005, his first taste of long-season league baseball, was a humbling experience for him.

"It didn't come out the way I wanted," Garcia said of his 2005 season. "I didn't get the numbers I was looking for, but it wasn't a total waste though. It was a huge learning experience for me."

Garcia went 5-6 with a 3.91 ERA with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2005. While it was a solid season in its own right, it didn't exactly meet the expectations of a pitcher of Garcia's talent.

"I wasn't used to getting hit around," said the 20-year old hurler. "I didn't get hit much in high school and really not all that much in the Gulf Coast League. So when I was getting hit more often in Charleston, I was all frustrated and I would just try to throw harder and get meaner on the mound."

While many might be down in his year in Charleston, Garcia focuses on the positives. His 2005 campaign wasn't just humbling, it was a positive learning experience. He made strides in developing from a raw thrower to a polished pitcher.

"My mechanics from the beginning of the year to the end were totally different," Garcia explained. "When I went back to Tampa, Nardi Contreras and Carlos Reyes re-polished my mechanics. They helped to not drift out as much towards the plate. My weight should be back more on my back leg, use more torque and throw more on a downward plane. It definitely also helps with velocity."

Garcia began the year posting a 4.32 ERA in his first 13 games with the Riverdogs before receiving some mandatory rest at the Tampa minor league complex. He shaved over a full run off of his second half ERA, going 1-2 with a 3.20 ERA upon his return to Charleston.

"I also improved my pitch selection," he added as another change to his game in the second half. "Instead of throwing harder when I was getting hit hard, I learned to go to my offspeed stuff more. Last year [2004 in the Gulf Coast League] I could leave balls over the middle of the plate and get away with it."

One of the more spirited players in the Yankee farm system, Garcia compliments his confident approach with an intense competitive demeanor that routinely showed in his mannerisms on the mound.

"I also learned to compose myself better on the mound," Garcia revealed. "My composure got a lot better by not showing emotion on the mound, showing the same steady attitude whether I was winning or losing."

While adjustments to his mechanics, pitch selection, and presence on the mound were key lessons learned in 2005, perhaps the biggest lesson Christian Garcia learned was a modified work ethic. Questions about his desire to work hard at his craft were raised last year and Garcia is putting a stop to those questions this offseason.

"When I was in high school I never worked out that much with weights, and I didn't work out to much in my first pro season either," the right-hander revealed. "I figure that if I'm going to get to that next level, I'm going to need every little edge. I need to improve my strength, agility, and endurance."

The Florida native gets up at 7am Monday through Friday to work out on the beach for two hours, running two miles in the sand and doing various agility drills. On Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, Garcia does even more agility work, doing various chord work, including abdominal stretches and lunges.

He also hits the gym every afternoon, bypassing heavy upper body workouts in lieu of intense leg lifting and abdominal work. Garcia finishes out his daily routine by throwing in the afternoon with fellow Yankee farmhand Saydel Beltran.

"I feel real strong right now," said Garcia. "I'm powered up and athletic now. I'm excited to get back into the season."

With a renewed work ethic instilled and the valuable lessons learned from his humbling 2005 season, Christian Garcia has now focused his attention on the immediate future.

"I obviously want to move up," Garcia listed as one of his main goals for 2006. "I won't consider it a down year if I don't move up. I know I have a lot to learn. The more I'm with Nardi, the more I learn. He keeps throwing things at me, but it takes baby steps and learn a little bit at a time."

Nardi Contreras, the Yankee Minor League Pitching Coordinator, has been instrumental in Garcia's improvements thus far.

"Nardi is great," Garcia admitted. "He has helped me a lot. Mechanically, he's changed some things in my delivery that has helped my control. Now I can actually hit the outside corners when I want. He's also helped me develop a changeup and I never had one of those."

The improved workout regiment, pitch selection, composure, and mechanics are all well and good. Collectively, they are instrumental in the development of a young pitcher. But the addition of a quality changeup, giving him a third pitch to go along with his power fastball and wicked curveball, could be equally as effective in harnessing his immense talent.

"It has come along really well," Garcia said of his changeup. "It is further along than I thought it could be at this point. I'm pretty impressed I've got one this good. I can even throw it to righties now."

Imagine what the final product of a talent like Christian Garcia will be after he's learned as much as he did in 2005, with the addition of a quality third pitch, continuing to gain valuable experience, all while maintaining a domineering conviction on the mound.

"It was kind of humbling," Garcia said of his struggles in 2005. "I mean, I have the same attitude that nobody can touch me. Last year I learned so much. There were the long road trips, long hours on the bus, every place is different, being away from home days at time, and all that."

"Last year showed me how much I was lacking," Garcia continued. "It was a big positive for me and I needed that."

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nChristian Garcia owns a plus fastball that sits 92-95 MPH and tops out at 97 MPH. He compliments his fastball with a knee-buckling power knuckle curveball in the 81-84 MPH range. That kind of deadly combo just isn't fair for opposing batters.
\r\n
\r\nPossessing all the talent in the world, even arguably having better stuff than heralded pitching prospect Phil Hughes, Garcia also had the confident attitude to go with his tremendous stuff. But 2005, his first taste of long-season league baseball, was a humbling experience for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"It didn't come out the way I wanted,\" Garcia said of his 2005 season. \"I didn't get the numbers I was looking for, but it wasn't a total waste though. It was a huge learning experience for me.\"
\r\n
\r\nGarcia went 5-6 with a 3.91 ERA with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2005. While it was a solid season in its own right, it didn't exactly meet the expectations of a pitcher of Garcia's talent.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wasn't used to getting hit around,\" said the 20-year old hurler. \"I didn't get hit much in high school and really not all that much in the Gulf Coast League. So when I was getting hit more often in Charleston, I was all frustrated and I would just try to throw harder and get meaner on the mound.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile many might be down in his year in Charleston, Garcia focuses on the positives. His 2005 campaign wasn't just humbling, it was a positive learning experience. He made strides in developing from a raw thrower to a polished pitcher.
\r\n
\r\n\"My mechanics from the beginning of the year to the end were totally different,\" Garcia explained. \"When I went back to Tampa, Nardi Contreras and Carlos Reyes re-polished my mechanics. They helped to not drift out as much towards the plate. My weight should be back more on my back leg, use more torque and throw more on a downward plane. It definitely also helps with velocity.\"
\r\n
\r\nGarcia began the year posting a 4.32 ERA in his first 13 games with the Riverdogs before receiving some mandatory rest at the Tampa minor league complex. He shaved over a full run off of his second half ERA, going 1-2 with a 3.20 ERA upon his return to Charleston.
\r\n
\r\n\"I also improved my pitch selection,\" he added as another change to his game in the second half. \"Instead of throwing harder when I was getting hit hard, I learned to go to my offspeed stuff more. Last year [2004 in the Gulf Coast League] I could leave balls over the middle of the plate and get away with it.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the more spirited players in the Yankee farm system, Garcia compliments his confident approach with an intense competitive demeanor that routinely showed in his mannerisms on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"I also learned to compose myself better on the mound,\" Garcia revealed. \"My composure got a lot better by not showing emotion on the mound, showing the same steady attitude whether I was winning or losing.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile adjustments to his mechanics, pitch selection, and presence on the mound were key lessons learned in 2005, perhaps the biggest lesson Christian Garcia learned was a modified work ethic. Questions about his desire to work hard at his craft were raised last year and Garcia is putting a stop to those questions this offseason.
\r\n
\r\n\"When I was in high school I never worked out that much with weights, and I didn't work out to much in my first pro season either,\" the right-hander revealed. \"I figure that if I'm going to get to that next level, I'm going to need every little edge. I need to improve my strength, agility, and endurance.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe Florida native gets up at 7am Monday through Friday to work out on the beach for two hours, running two miles in the sand and doing various agility drills. On Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, Garcia does even more agility work, doing various chord work, including abdominal stretches and lunges.
\r\n
\r\nHe also hits the gym every afternoon, bypassing heavy upper body workouts in lieu of intense leg lifting and abdominal work. Garcia finishes out his daily routine by throwing in the afternoon with fellow Yankee farmhand Saydel Beltran.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel real strong right now,\" said Garcia. \"I'm powered up and athletic now. I'm excited to get back into the season.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith a renewed work ethic instilled and the valuable lessons learned from his humbling 2005 season, Christian Garcia has now focused his attention on the immediate future.
\r\n
\r\n\"I obviously want to move up,\" Garcia listed as one of his main goals for 2006. \"I won't consider it a down year if I don't move up. I know I have a lot to learn. The more I'm with Nardi, the more I learn. He keeps throwing things at me, but it takes baby steps and learn a little bit at a time.\"
\r\n
\r\nNardi Contreras, the Yankee Minor League Pitching Coordinator, has been instrumental in Garcia's improvements thus far.
\r\n
\r\n\"Nardi is great,\" Garcia admitted. \"He has helped me a lot. Mechanically, he's changed some things in my delivery that has helped my control. Now I can actually hit the outside corners when I want. He's also helped me develop a changeup and I never had one of those.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe improved workout regiment, pitch selection, composure, and mechanics are all well and good. Collectively, they are instrumental in the development of a young pitcher. But the addition of a quality changeup, giving him a third pitch to go along with his power fastball and wicked curveball, could be equally as effective in harnessing his immense talent.
\r\n
\r\n\"It has come along really well,\" Garcia said of his changeup. \"It is further along than I thought it could be at this point. I'm pretty impressed I've got one this good. I can even throw it to righties now.\"
\r\n
\r\nImagine what the final product of a talent like Christian Garcia will be after he's learned as much as he did in 2005, with the addition of a quality third pitch, continuing to gain valuable experience, all while maintaining a domineering conviction on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was kind of humbling,\" Garcia said of his struggles in 2005. \"I mean, I have the same attitude that nobody can touch me. Last year I learned so much. There were the long road trips, long hours on the bus, every place is different, being away from home days at time, and all that.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Last year showed me how much I was lacking,\" Garcia continued. \"It was a big positive for me and I needed that.\"
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