A non-scout’s look at Deivi García

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Last weekend, I took a quick trip to Scranton, Pennsylvania. It was brutally hot and I wasn’t thrilled to drive two-and-a-half hours each way for a night game, but I had no idea if I’d be free to see Deivi García again this summer. I had wanted to catch him in Trenton, a much more reasonable trip for me to make, but the Yankees had other plans.

I had a great seat, six rows up directly behind home plate, and was surrounded by scouts. Of course, I stuck out like a sore thumb as I wouldn’t know the first thing about scouting. Nonetheless, it won’t hurt anyone to share my thoughts and observations of García’s second Triple-A outing, right? Right. If anything, take what I write with a heaping grain of salt. And, at the least, hopefully the videos I have are worthwhile.

Unfortunately for me, García was a bit off on Saturday. He lasted just three innings, allowed three hits, and walked four. Somehow, only one run crossed the plate. Here’s more detail on what I saw:

García’s arsenal

The twenty year-old righty (20!) throws a fastball, curveball, changeup, and a slider. The slider is his newest offering:

Deivi threw a lot of sliders when I saw him, more than I had anticipated. It might have been because he’s working on the pitch, but it also could have been because it was fairly effective. Here’s a good one:

The scoreboard radar gun had it coming in the mid-80s. From my viewpoint, it seemed like the pitch was better early on, such as the whiff above. However, he seemed to start relying on it fairly heavily and his opponents were able to at least spoil or lay off them.

A big reason that Deivi went to his slider quite a bit was because he didn’t have a good curveball. I don’t recall any swings-and-misses on the pitch. Instead, it felt like batters were able to either spit on or foul them away. Most of them were left up, such as this one hit for an RBI single:

Here’s another one left up and fouled away:

Huge caveat upcoming: obviously, I’m no scout, but his curveball was largely unimpressive. It seemed a little slow, often in the mid-to-high 70s, and loopy to me. Of course, I saw him on a bad night and I’m just dumb. After all, look at this:

Lol @ my observations.

Deivi didn’t throw too many changeups, though he did have one or two good ones when I saw him. Unfortunately, I don’t have any video of the pitch.

Last but not least, let’s talk about Deivi’s fastball. Most of the time, it’s not going to wow you in terms of velocity. He was mostly 90 to 92 per the scoreboard, though he did hit 94 and 95 a few times when he was in a jam. There was some additional effort to do so.

Despite middling velocity, hitters just couldn’t square up his heater. There were a few whiffs, such as this one:

There were a number of fastballs fouled back to the screen, too. My amateur opinion is that García’s deception helps his fastball play up. Aside from hiding the ball seemingly well, he throws a little bit across his body.

Command & Control

Given the four walks on his final line, you can gather than Deivi’s command of his repertoire was lackluster. As I noted, he left his curve up a number of times. He also didn’t spot his fastball particularly well. Nonetheless, his overall command issues weren’t necessarily a shock. After all, he’s posted some high walk rates in the minors.

That being said, I’m also going to blame his walk total partly on the sheer number of fouls against. Anecdotally, Deivi got to a ton of two strike counts, but all of the foul balls thereafter resulted in Deivi eventually sprinkling in enough balls for a free pass.

I’ll dive further into his mechanics in a moment, but I’d like to note that nothing in his delivery appeared blameworthy for his lack of precision. Maybe throwing across his body makes it more difficult, but it’s not like he had arms and legs flying everywhere. He’s pretty smooth to the plate.

Mechanics

I’m not qualified to say if the Yankees’ best prospect has good or bad mechanics. Instead, I’ll give a little descriptor of what I saw (which you can also glean from the videos above).

From the windup, García has a quick motion. There’s nothing herky-jerky and it seemed to be without to much effort. And, as noted, he appeared to hide the ball well while releasing to the plate from across his body.

Most of my looks at Deivi were from the stretch, however. He did allow seven baserunners in three innings, after all. The righty was pretty quick to the plate and delivered the same minimal effort cross-body motion as his windup. He did ramp up his arm speed in order to hit 94 and 95 a few times, though.

Demeanor

Even though García struggled, he didn’t seem rattled. There were a litany of foul balls, none of the base hits against him were crushed, and his curveball wasn’t working. And yet, he seemed pretty cool out there. For a guy who just turned 20 in May, it was rather impressive.

It seemed to me that García had a good deal of confidence out there, too. He worked pretty quickly between pitches, which was nice to see despite a high pitch count. I’d have expected him to be a little more hesitant or deliberate in a rough outing like this one, but that didn’t happen.

Size & Athleticism

As you probably know by now, Deivi isn’t a big human. He’s listed at 5’9″, but that might be generous. Per his MiLB page, he weighs 163 pounds which seems too precise to be inaccurate. Anyway, whether or not his listed height is accurate doesn’t matter: he’s not tall either way.

So, García’s small stature makes his arsenal all the more impressive. I know pitchers who throw in the mid-to-upper 90s are a dime-a-dozen nowadays, but for Deivi to be able to do so at his height is unexpected.

One note on his athleticism: I was fortunate enough to see him have to make a somewhat difficult fielding play off the mound. There was a swinging bunt against him that could have resulted in a hit, but García got to it quickly and without panic. That allowed him not to hurry a throw over the first, where he delivered the ball on target for an out.

Final thoughts

I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed on my ride home. There’s been quite a lot of hype, which was why I willingly sat in 100 degree weather to watch him pitch. But of course, everyone has a bad game now and then.

Despite feeling underwhelmed, I reminded myself that García *just* turned 20. Just being in Triple-A is a significant feat at that age. There’s clearly some work to do, namely his command, but the pieces are there for success. Even in a poor outing, there were flashes of his potential excellence.

Now, I have no business giving a long-term projection here. But, considering that he can harness four different pitches, it certainly seems to me that he can stick as a starter. Some improved command, which I suppose can get better, could help him achieve that outcome.

My biggest concern, which I share with many, is his durability. In last week’s mailbag, I answered a question about Deivi’s height. In it, I cited Jeff Zimmerman’s research for the Hardball Times. He found that height doesn’t make a difference in terms of performance, but that short pitchers are twice as likely as anyone else to get injured. That obviously could prevent Deivi from sticking in the rotation long-term.

Relief certainly sounds like a good fallback option. His stuff should play up in the bullpen, though I hope he can make it as a starter. There’s no reason to write him off as a rotation option, of course. He’s just 20! I feel like I haven’t said that enough. The Yankees have a pretty exciting prospect on their hands, folks. Though you didn’t need my insight to know that (hope you enjoyed it anyway).

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1 Comment

  1. The Original Drew

    I am sure the Yankees have made their mind up about if Deivi can stick in the rotation going forward. If he is traded at the deadline for a meaningful upgrade then the answer is no.

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