Deivi Garcia, one of the New York Yankees top pitching prospects, made his Triple-A debut for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Monday night after starting the Futures Game for the American League just eight days prior.
He immediately was tasked with pitching against one of the best offenses the International League has to offer in the Columbus Clippers though Garcia did not falter, as he earned his first Triple-A victory in a 6-4 win at PNC Field.
The 20-year-old, known for striking out hitters at an other-worldly rate (14.9 K/9 between High-A and Double-A this season), flashed his swing-and-miss repertoire — sitting down six hitters while allowing as many hits on three runs in five innings of work.
“I thought that it was a nice first outing for him,” RailRiders manager Jay Bell said. “I don’t think his command was where it normally is, but shoot I’ll tell you what it’s pretty electric stuff.”
Bell and RailRiders catcher Erik Kratz each continually lauded Garcia’s stuff. His fastball sat in the low 90s, but his curveball changed speeds from the low 70s to the mid-80s — all mixed in with a newly integrated slider that kept Clippers hitters off balance for the most part.
“I think my breaking ball is my best pitch,” Garcia said. “I like sliders. I use my slider a lot because it’s like a fastball. I can throw more sliders because I want more swing and miss.”
But the pitches themselves weren’t necessarily what impressed Bell and Kratz the most.
It was Garcia’s poise.
Columbus’ first two hitters promptly smacked singles to begin the game to set up runners on first and third for the Clippers. Garcia jogged off the mound that inning having allowed just one run off a sacrifice fly to the next hitter, Yu Chang. He then punched out Brandon Barnes, and Kratz caught Max Moroff stealing second for an inning-ending double play.
The next inning, Ka’ai Tom led off with a double. Garcia pitched around it and struck out a pair of hitters in the process to keep Columbus off the board.
“You watch his demeanor, you watch him, and there’s no change in expression,” Bell said. “For a young guy to be able to command the mound with that type of presence is pretty impressive.”
Some young pitchers come up and try to adjust their pitching style to conform to the different hitters and opponents at hand.
Garcia is the opposite, according to Kratz.
“You see guys come up and they’re like, ‘Oh I’ve got to throw to the hitter. He just came right after the guys with his stuff and gave it to them,” he said. “When you have the ability to understand how you can throw and how it melds into the game and how the pace of the game is going and what you can do to guys, it’s exciting for me to watch.”
It also helped that Kratz, the 37-year-old journeyman, was the one behind the plate tonight to help guide Garcia through the start — “a perfect marriage,” according to Bell.
Garcia made one mistake in the third that Moroff capitalized on. After allowing a one-out single to Daniel Johnson, Moroff took a pitch straight down the middle over the right-center field wall — which gave the Clippers a 3-2 lead at the time.
But Scranton Wilkes-Barre provided a couple of runs of support to give Garcia the lead back. He pitched to two batters over the minimum in his last two innings and exited the game with a 6-3 lead.
Moving forward, Garcia noted he needs to improve his fastball command. Otherwise, nothing but positive things came out of the RailRiders clubhouse following Deivi’s win as a RailRider.
“He’s got the stuff; he’s got an electric arm. This isn’t where he’s going to stop,” Kratz said.