Player Profile: Edgar Garcia

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I’ll be grading Edgar soon, as I get to the short season and rookie leagues, but I wanted to do a proper writeup on him, because I feel he might be one of the most under the radar guys in our system, and there’s really no real reason for that. The Phillies signed Edgar Garcia as a 16 year old free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, after following him for quite a while in his home country. At 6’2, 190 pounds, Garcia offers a bit of projection, on-top of an already lively arm. He was sitting in the high 80’s/low 90’s as a 16/17 year old, there’s plenty of reason to believe he might improve. He featured an above average changeup, considering his young age, and an erratic curveball that the Phillies thought would improve. After signing him for $500,000, they were eager to see what he could do.

Garcia made his Phillies debut in the GCL, at the tender age of 17 in 2005.  He pitched just 55.2 IP, putting up a 3.56 ERA, allowing 63 H, 13 BB and striking out 42. Those numbers might not jump out at you as outstanding, but for a 17 year old, in his first exposure to pro baseball, they were quite solid, especially his walk rate, which was well above average. Because he was considered quite raw, people tempered expectations heading into 2006, probably for good reason, but Garcia just kept getting better. He pitched all of 2006, his age 18 season, at Batavia, and pitched extremely well. He posted a 2.98 ERA in 66.1 IP, allowing 62 H, 10 BB and struck out 46. Those numbers look pretty damn solid for an 18 year old competing against a lot of refined college players. Again, though, the hype and praise for Garcia was somewhat absent from the discussion. With the drafting of Kyle Drabek, and the big time success of the Lakewood rotation, it was easy to miss Garcia’s fine season in 2006. The strikeout rate still isn’t where most people want it, but two things should be pointed out. First, his walk rate, which was already excellent in 2005 (2.10/9), got even better in 2006 (1.36/9), at a higher level. Control, for young pitchers, is the thing you often see come last. Carlos Carrasco put up a great 2006, I rave about him constantly, but Garcia has much better control, and is a year younger. Carrasco struck out more guys, but also walked more. You can’t put everything together at 17/18 years old unless you are an absolutely one of a kind talent. The second area where Garcia improved was his hit rate, going from 10.19/9 in 2005 to 8.41/9. This is significant, again, because he lowered his rate drastically against tougher competition.

I don’t want to pretend his K rate isn’t at least a reason to pause, because it is. However, at this point, it’s not something that should diminish his potential as much as it has. He generated 1.26 ground balls per fly ball in 2006, that’s a decent ratio, but it doesn’t seem to indicate he’s going to be pitching primarily to contact and not trying to strike guys out. He held both lefties and righties to under a .670 OPS, which speaks to him working more on his changeup and having a weapon to use against LH batters. It’s my opinion, based on nothing other than the logic in my head, that Garcia’s low K rate comes from him not wanting to walk batters. It’s simply an approach that he’s going to have to work on, and it might just be a matter of him not being afraid to miss off the plate. As he continues to move up the organizational ladder, it’s something he will learn from, and something he will be able to hopefully improve. If the high strikeout numbers don’t come, it doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t be a solid middle of the rotation starter, but he will need to improve his GB:FB ratio, and he will need to maintain his good command. However, he’s posted two strong seasons, at a very young age, so at this point, it almost feels like nitpicking. A 6.49 K/9 ratio, which is what his average over his first two seasons is, would be league average as a starter at the big league level, of course, that number isn’t big league adjusted, but I’m just throwing it out there. However, his walk rate, 1.70, would be in the top 4 or 5 of regular, 160 IP a year pitchers. I weigh strikeouts as much as the next person, but right now, I’m not terribly worried.

Garcia also benefits (I think) by having his pitch selection trimmed down to 3 pitches (that I know of), which means he’s confident in what he has, and isn’t tinkering with 5 or 6 different pitches. He features a fastball that sits in the low 90’s, can touch 94/95, and might improve a tick or two in the next two to three years. He also has an above average changeup, which could eventually rival Carrasco’s for best in the organization. He commands it well to all areas of the zone, and has good arm action, which adds to the decepcion of the pitch. His third pitch, both in counting and effectiveness, is a 12-6 curveball, which has been inconsistent at times, and may also be a factor in the low K rates. You can keep hitters off balance with a fastball and a changeup, but unless you have one of the best around (Cole Hamels, Pedro Martinez), it’s tough to be a strikeout artist without a reliable breaking ball. If he can tighten the pitch and gain confidence in it, at least making it average or a tick above average, it will improve his other two pitches, and if he can figure it out and turn it into a plus pitch, then he has all the makings of a solid, 200 inning, middle of the rotation starter.

2007 should be a fun year to watch Garcia, and we should be watching him at Lakewood, in what is shaping up to be a powerful rotation yet again. He’s only thrown 55 and 66 innings the last two seasons, but in his age 19 season, the Phillies might be ready to take the training wheels off. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them try to limit him to 120 innings or so, but that’s not the worst thing they could do. If he gains confidence in his curveball, he could be in for a dynamite third season, and at this time next year, will be generating a lot more buzz than he is now.

2 thoughts on “Player Profile: Edgar Garcia

  1. I agree entirely with your appraisal. Factors that may come in
    to play with a kid as young as he is are 1) the extent to which
    the Phillies have been holding him back in terms of using certain pitches in certain situations (i.e. they’re less
    concerned with his K/9 ratio at this point than with other
    dimensions of his game) and 2) his command of English, as with
    all young Latinos. Precise communication between him and his
    coaches (and his catchers) must still be a problem to be solved.
    In any case, I agree that he is off to a very promising start in
    the organization and has flown under the radar so far. 2007
    should be very revealing in terms of his potential. I too look
    forward to following his development this summer. Let’s hope
    he stays healthy.

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