Nationals' Gamble On Christian Garcia Pays Off

WASHINGTON—Righthander Christian Garcia pitched so well in September that he went from having a spot on an Arizona Fall League roster to making the Nationals' playoff roster.

His big league debut delayed by a rash of injuries in the minors, the 27-year-old Garcia nevertheless fit right in to Washington's bullpen. He struck out 15 and walked two in his first 13 innings this September, flashing a solid four-pitch mix of four-seam and two-seam fastballs, a curveball and a changeup

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Garcia turned pro with the Yankees in 2004 as a third-round pick out of Gulliver Prep in Miami. He signed as a pitcher for $390,000 instead of going to South Carolina to play catcher.

Garcia peaked as New York's No. 5 prospect in 2005—but then came the injuries.

He had two Tommy John surgeries and another elbow operation. His other injuries include a knee surgery, a dislocation of his other knee, a lat strain and an injured oblique.

"I stayed positive, but my lowest point was when I got released (in May 2010) after my second Tommy John," Garcia said. "A couple of other teams were looking at me, but only the Nationals were willing to take the chance."

That was July 2011. Garcia said the Cardinals and Astros passed on him after looking at his medical records. After signing with Washington last year, he pitched well at short-season Auburn to earn a longer look in 2012.

With Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this season, Garcia logged 45 appearances, saved 21 games and struck out 66 and walked 17 in 52 innings.

Garcia had been a catcher on his high school varsity squad until a dislocated knee prevented him from squatting. He moved to the mound as a senior and hit 96 mph.

The Yankees used Garcia as a starter, and the righthander said he expects an opportunity to compete for a rotation spot with the Nationals in spring training.


• Righthander Cole Kimball recovered from rotator cuff surgery to pitch six innings this season, and he took Garcia's spot on the Salt River Arizona Fall League roster. Fellow righty reliever Aaron Barrett and third baseman Matt Skole already had been added.

• Catcher Adrian Nieto received regular play for Spain as it won its qualifier in Jupiter, Fla., to reach the main draw of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The 21-year-old hit .247/.340/.385 in 283 at-bats between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and low Class A Hagerstown this season after serving a 50-game drug suspension.