It’s time to have a conversation about Deivi Garcia and the 2019 Yankees.
For a player who turned 20 in May, Garcia carries more gravitas in Yankee fans circles than a prospect his age should. That’s what happens when you strike out nearly 40 percent of batters in Double-A.
So we all know why we’re here: We have to discuss whether Deivi will be up in the Bronx by the end of the year.
Garcia is 64 2/3 innings into a dominant Minor League season that started in High-A Tampa and has carried over into Double-A. Before he’d even made 10 starts, he was named an Eastern League All-Star and he clearly deserves it.
Let’s run through his stats. The right-hander struck out 109 batters and walked 30, allowing just 43 hits and sporting a 2.68 ERA between the two levels. He has four starts of no more than two hits and four games with double-digit strikeouts. He’s stretched out enough to throw as many as 103 pitches in a game and last through six innings.
This comes after he broke out last season with 105 strikeouts and a 2.55 ERA in 74 innings over three levels from Low-A Charleston to Trenton.
Garcia works with four different pitches: a mid-90s fastball and a high-spin curveball that has been a dominant outpitch to go with two developing offspeed offerings: A changeup and a slider. According to reports, his slider is making strides.
Trenton Thunder manager Pat Osborn raves about his stuff and approach as a whole.
“For a lack of a better word, he’s been dominant,” Osborn said to MiLB.com. “He has a really good four-pitch mix and all four right now are probably above the Major League average. He’s a heck of a competitor and has the composure of a guy that’s been pitching for a number of years. He’s the full package in terms of what you want in a young starting pitcher.”
The Key Factors
Brian Cashman has spoken before about how Double-A is the cutoff where he starts to consider whether a player is ready for the Major Leagues. Jonathan Loaisiga took the leap straight from Trenton to the Majors last season with so-so results. Jordan Montgomery had just 37 innings of Triple-A experience before making the Opening Day roster in 2017.
So while the Yankees’ brass hasn’t had to comment publicly on Garcia’s MLB readiness, they’re definitely thinking about it internally.
The first key is his innings limit. He has one, though what’s the exact number is anyone’s guess. He threw 74 innings last year, so let’s say they’re thinking a 30-40 inning increase. He’s throwing roughly five innings a start right now, which means he has about 8-10 left in his season at the current rate.
That means he could be calling it a night on this season before the end of August. However, the Thunder’s current six-man rotation could allow Trenton to skip starts easily or simply space out each pitcher, pushing Garcia’s end to his season.
It only makes sense to call him up this year if he’s going to contribute for the postseason, which means either holding him back a while or converting him to relief. While his stuff screams elite reliever — mid-to-upper 90s heat out of the pen with a hammer curve — the Yankees already have a strong bullpen and there’s no guarantee a 20-year-old who hasn’t pitched in Triple-A and has no relief experience would hit the ground running in September and October.
Furthermore, Garcia is multiple years away from the Yankees needing to add him to the 40-man roster. Like every MLB team, they’re considering his service time. Even though he’s accelerated his ETA with his performance, he likely won’t be in the Bronx until at least late April 2020.
When you hear the Yankees connected to the top players on this year’s market, you know opposing teams are asking about Garcia. He’s a non-starter in talks for a rental or middling starter, though he’s the starting point for a true, controllable ace like a Max Scherzer.
As evidenced by him still being in the organization, the Yankees are saying no to anyone inquiring about him.
Still, there’s always a good reason to trade a pitching prospect. Pitchers get hurt. Garcia is undersized at 5-foot-9. Due to his height and love of Pedro Martinez, he gets the comparison to the former Red Sox star, but that’s also in part due to few power pitchers excelling at his size.
But as much as you may not want to prospect hug, there isn’t a player set to hit the trade market this July who elicits screams of “Trade Deivi.” Barring Scherzer or an unexpected player becoming available, the piranha-like Garcia will remain in the organization.
For those who scrolled to here, the answer is likely no, Deivi Garcia probably won’t be a New York Yankee by the end of this season. Whether it’s service time, an innings limit or his tertiary offerings, Garcia likely needs just a little bit more time on the farm before he can contribute without limits in the Major Leagues.
He might be able to get by with just a fastball and curve to begin his MLB career. However, hitters will adjust and he’ll need that changeup and slider to be effective in order to still maintain success.
The Yankees could throw caution to the wind here and roll with the hot hand, see where Deivi takes them. It would be incredibly out of character.
He’s only 20 years old. That needs to be emphasized. There are countless cases of players rushed to the Majors and having that be a detrimental impact on their careers. The franchise needs to judge whether he’s phyiscally and emotionally mature enough to handle the high-offense International League, let alone the Majors.
Luis Severino was juuuust making it to Double-A and reaching the 100-inning plateau at 20 years old. Even if the Yankees had been in the playoff chase in 2014, he still wouldn’t have elicited much conversation.
Garcia is way ahead of where Severino was, yet the Yankees are better off using other prospects — or their most abundant resource, money — to acquire the needed pitching depth for October. Still, every 5-6 days, when Garcia strikes out everyone in his way, the dream of #Deivi2019 lives.