Today, we got to see yet another exciting MLB debut from a really interesting prospect, as the New York Yankees called up Deivi Garcia for his MLB debut.
If you’re not familiar with Garcia, he was signed during the international signing period by the Yankees in 2015 at 17-years-old. Coming into the game, Garcia was known for a couple of things: first, his curveball, which has had some glowing reviews from the minors, and then his fastball, a high-spin pitch with life that can top out at 97 MPH. However, the big knock against Garcia has been his inability to throw strikes.
But today we got to see Garcia pitch in an MLB setting. Here’s what I saw.
So just for solidarity, and because it’s something I’m always really interested in with these debuts, here’s the first pitch Garcia threw to Jeff McNeil:
No surprise he threw a fastball, that’s the pitch most guys feel the best about controlling, though the location could’ve been better. But still, no harm no foul here.
After McNeil fouled off another fastball, Garcia flashed us his changeup, which McNeil also fouled.
Nothing incredible, but it looks like it could be a nice pitch. Then, Garcia decided, look, I’m going to get you to swing at this and miss, and McNeil, once again, fouled off another changeup away.
Then, a couple more foul balls later, we get to see Garcia’s curveball.
Loads of movement on this pitch, I’m excited about it’s potential, but I can totally see how it could be hard for him to control. Still, this could easily turn into a pretty swing swing-and-miss pitch with all that movement.
And then finally, Garcia gets his first major league out after McNeil decides to swing, yet again, at a changeup away (also, sweet stretch by Luke Voit to get the out).
Kill me. Garcia got what looked like a pretty nice curveball in for a strike and we had this godawful angle of it. But! Then, on the next pitch, we get to see another really nice curveball from Garcia low and away, and Smith bites.
And then, to finish him off, Garcia tosses that changeup low and away, the pitch and location that Jeff McNeil kept fouling off like his life depended on it, and Smith gets a called strike three.
Did Garcia benefit from a kind umpire? Almost definitely. But let’s look at this three-pitch approach a bit deeper. Garcia relies on his curveball for pitches one and two, gets a called strike on the first and a swing and miss on the second. As our own Alex Fast mentioned in a piece he did on Dylan Bundy a few weeks ago, first-pitch curveballs are pretty useful, because hitters aren’t expecting them and often don’t swing at them. So I’m liking that Garcia has enough confidence in his curveball to throw it as a first-pitch strike, and it absolutely worked.
Then, he finishes Smith off not with another curveball, but with his changeup. It’s not his best pitch, but it works nicely, has a decent bit of movement, and fooled Smith enough for Garcia to log his first major league strikeout and get him out of the first inning.
Also, quick above game moment, here’s a sweet moment that happened between Garcia and catcher Erik Kratz.
Adorable. I love it.
We got to see a bit more of Garcia’s control problems in the second inning. After working J.D. Davis to a 1-1 count, Garcia nearly nailed Davis in the head.
Whoooooooops. But, after working Davis to a full count, Garcia logged his second strikeout of his MLB career on a high and in fastball.
A nice pitch. It only logged in at 91 MPH, but, this is where Garcia’s fastball can be effective. It has a lot of spin on it, making it look a lot faster than it actually is and giving it a lot of life.
The rest of the second inning resolved itself pretty quickly. Robinson Cano flied out on a 2-0 count, and Garcia’s lucky that happened because he was having some mad control problems. Then, after watching a first-pitch low fastball for a ball, Pete Alonso flied out on a high fastball (changing eye levels! I dig it!) and the inning was over.
Garcia sailed through the third inning, it was pretty. He started off Amed Rosario with a nice backdoor two-seam fastball for a called strike.
And then, we got to see Garcia’s slider!
It was way off for a ball, but hey! It’s here! And I kinda like it. We even got to see it again later in the at-bat.
Again, way off for a ball, but it looks like a pitch with potential. It’s got some nice, late break on it. It’s not a frisbee slider or anything, but it looks like it can be a pretty solid third pitch for Garcia.
Then, on the 2-2 count, the curveball was back and sweet baby jeez it was gorgeous.
Good luck Rosario. Good. Luck.
Next up was Jake Marisnick who gets to an 0-2 count after fouling a few balls off and gets locked up by this nice, backdoor two-seam fastball.
That’s two strikeouts! And a nice fastball there too, 94 is the fastest he got all night and it looked good with some great life.
Next up is Ali Sanchez, who works to a 2-2 count after a couple way off pitches from Garcia and a foul ball, and then Garcia rings him up with this nice fastball.
He struck out the side! What an absolutely beautiful inning from Garcia, showing off not only the beautiful curveball, but his fastball too. He’s on fire.
And we’re off to the fourth inning, where Garcia gives up his first hit of the game to McNeil, who grounds a low and away changeup into right field for a single. All things considered, could’ve been worse. Then, after Conforto works to a 1-1 count, we get a nice happy accident.
That changeup wasn’t supposed to be there, but it ended up being right on the corner, lucky for Garcia. Then, on a 1-2 count, Garcia blows a 94 MPH fastball right by Conforto for a swinging strike three.
Not the best location but again, I’m digging the fastball, hitters are clearly having trouble keeping up with it, even though it’s not an absolute meteor.
Then it’s Dom Smith’s turn and we get another first-pitch curveball! And it’s a beauty that Smith actually ends up swinging at.
I’m really falling in love with this curveball, it’s a work of art. After getting Smith to a 1-1 count, Smith hits a hard grounder to right field and Thairo Estrada flashes some nice leather to snag the out at first base.
Then, J.D. Davis comes up, hits the first pitch he sees, and flies out into foul territory. Four innings done, six strikeouts, one hit. It’s looking pretty.
First pitch of the inning, Cano hit a hard line drive to right field for a single. Then, after working to a 2-0 count, Alonso smacked an inside fastball for a broken-bat flyout to left field. Then, we get Rosario, who fouls of a 91 MPH fastball in the middle of the plate that Garcia was very lucky wasn’t launched into next year.
Then, on an 0-2 count, the slider comes back and we see the same problem again.
It looks like it could be a nice slider, and Kratz really wants Garcia to throw it low and outside, but he just can’t control the pitch it looks like. After working Rosario to a 3-2 count, he popped a low fastball up for an out.
Then, we get Marisnick, who works to a 2-0 count and then gets a beautiful curveball that he just pokes down the third base line for a single.
No fault on Garcia here, that’s a well-located, really nice pitch. But baseball is weird and things like that happen sometimes. Luckily for Garcia, though, after working to a 2-2 count through a lot of foul balls, Sanchez popped a flyout, and Garcia was out of the inning.
This is important to keep in mind—this is a seven-inning game because it’s game two of a doubleheader, and Garcia is still out there. Good on the Yankees for trusting him (he deserves it based on his performance).
First pitch of the sixth inning, Jeff McNeil came up and on the first pitch, similar to Marisnick last inning, gets a really nice curveball and pokes it down the first base line where, unfortunately for Garcia, Voit bobbles it and Smith gets on base.
Again, no fault on Garcia here, that’s a nice pitch, and I like that he’s throwing a first-pitch curveball. I’m betting McNeil (or the Mets as a whole) noticed Garcia was throwing a good number of first-pitch curveballs and sat on that one. Still, good pitch, tough break on the Voit error.
Then, after working Dom Smith to an 0-2 count, Garcia tosses a high-middle fastball that Smith smacks to left field, allowing McNeil to score the first run Garcia has given up in his major league career.
Overall, not a horrible pitch, the high fastball has worked for strikeouts earlier in this game, but Smith caught onto that one and made some good contact. Then, Davis comes up and, whaddaya know, another first-pitch curveball!
And it worked! And looked great! Good on Garcia for still feeling confident enough to throw that pitch first again. Then, after getting to a 1-1 count, Garcia throws a low and away curveball and it does what it’s supposed to do if it’s not inducing whiffs—causes a groundball.
And that groundball gets Garcia out of the inning with a nice double play. One run scored, sure it ties the game, but things could’ve been a lot worse.
That was it for Garcia, he was taken out after the sixth inning for Jonathan Holder to take the final inning in a tie game.
I mean, how could I not be impressed? Six innings, four hits, one run, six strikeouts? Not too shabby for a major league debut at all. Plus, I really like what we saw from Garcia—his approach and repertoire are both pretty impressive and show a lot of potential.
The curveball is a work of art. I get why scouts and prospect analysts were so excited about the pitch, it’s gorgeous. It’s got loads of movement and depth and it looks like it could be an elite strikeout pitch.
Then, we’ve got his fastball. The velocity isn’t jaw-dropping, it maxed out at 94.1 MPH in this game and we’ve heard it can max out at 97—I would’ve liked seeing that. Still, it’s a good pitch, looks like it has quite a bit of spin on it and makes it look a lot faster than it actually is, and the velocity it showed should be good enough to make it work well.
The slider and changeup are the keys for me. Both look like they have potential. The slider looks like it has some nice late break, the changeup looks solid, but the key is control.
Actually, that’s the key for Garcia on the whole—controlling his pitches. He struggled with that a bit tonight and there were plenty of pitches that were way off the mark.
But, the raw stuff is really really good, and the approach is solid. I love all the first-pitch curveballs, it’s a smart approach and it was working fairly well for him. He changed hitters’ eye levels pretty well, too. Didn’t go with a full BSB, but had a good approach.
He’s still young, just 21-years-old, the youngest pitcher to make his MLB debut this year. With that raw stuff and what we saw tonight, there definitely looks like a potential ace in here. That’s going to hinge on him reining in his control (isn’t that always the case with these prospects?) and developing the slider and/or changeup. But the raw stuff, the potential, it’s there, and I’m really digging it.
Photo courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)