By Josh Boyd
February 4, 2004
Less than a week after third baseman Aaron Boone blew out his knee and the day after one-time third baseman of the future Drew Henson elected to pursue an NFL career, the Yankees have filled their third-base hole. The Yankees dealt Class A righthander Jose Garcia to the Rangers for Mike Lamb, a potential stopgap at the hot corner.
Lamb, 28, beat out Tom Evans in spring training to emerge as the Rangers everyday third baseman in 2000 after Todd Zeile left as a free agent. Lamb hit .278-6-47 as a rookie after hitting .321-20-100 in Double-A Tulsa the previous year. He wasn’t able to nail down a regular job in the following two seasons, though he shared time with Ken Caminiti and Herb Perry before Hank Blalock broke through in 2003. Lamb hit .288-9-46 for Triple-A Oklahoma City last year, playing only sparingly in Texas. Yankees scouts think he has the defensive tools to handle the position in the Bronx, at least until the trade deadline. Lamb is a .282 career hitter, with a .336 on-base percentage and .385 slugging percentage in 1,129 at-bats.
Garcia, 22, went 10-8, 2.52 in 157 innings between low Class A Battle Creek and high Class A Tampa last season to rank 20th on the organization’s top 30 list. After signing out of Venezuela in February 1999, he spent the following three seasons pitching in the Rookie-level Venezuelan (2000) and Dominican summer leagues (2001-2002). Garcia competes with solid command of a four-pitch mix that keeps hitters off balance. His fastball sits at 90 mph with arm-side movement and good sinking action. He shows the makings of a plus changeup, average slider and fringy curveball. He ranked ninth in the Midwest League with a 2.64 ERA, before finishing strong in Tampa with four solid starts. He won’t blow hitters away, and at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, he doesn’t project to add much velocity. However, Garcia is a nice addition for the Rangers because his strike-throwing ways fit their pitching profile. He is likely to start his Rangers career with in high Class A Stockton, and could end up in Double-A Frisco by the second half.