- Full name Christian J. Garcia
- Born 08/24/1985 in Miami, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 230 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Gulliver Prep
- Debut 09/04/2012
Drafted in the 3rd round (99th overall) by the New York Yankees in 2004 (signed for $390,000).
View Draft ReportA South Carolina recruit, Garcia was once expected to replace Landon Powell as the Gamecocks' catcher. That's not likely to happen now. Garcia's new coach at Gulliver Prep, former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro Collazo, put the projectable 6-foot-4, 175-pounder on the mound this spring after seeing his arm strength and his struggles offensively. Garcia hit the mid-90s with his fastball and zoomed into first-round consideration. Scouts say he may throw 97-98 mph one day. His inexperience shows, but he's athletic enough to repeat his delivery and command his fastball. Scouts expect him to clean up his mechanics and hone his secondary stuff as he gains pitching experience. Garcia was hobbled in a late start in the state playoffs by food poisoning, lowering his velocity into the 80s, but he was back in the mid 90s a start later.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Garcia's career has been plagued by injuries. Two separate Tommy John surgeries cost him all of 2007 and nearly all of 2010, and the Nationals signed him as a minor league free agent after the latter season. Washington moved Garcia from a starting role to the bullpen, and he thrived in the new role in 2012, reaching the majors and earning a spot on the postseason roster. But a forearm injury derailed him again in spring training 2013, and by the time he recovered from that, a nagging hamstring injury kept him on the shelf. When healthy, Garcia's stuff remains electric. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and tops out at 97 mph with good life, and his plus changeup is effective against both righties and lefties. His hard-biting curveball has tight spin and good power in the low 80s, and it flashes plus at times. Garcia's command is fringy, but he throws enough strikes to carve out a role as a middle reliever if he can stay healthy--but that's a big "if." He remains on the 40-man roster and is ready to stick in the big leagues, but he's 28 years old, and he has yet to make a major league impact.
After converting from catcher to pitcher as a prep senior, Garcia rocketed into the third round of the 2004 draft and signed with the Yankees for $390,000. But his career was derailed by two Tommy John surgeries, costing him all of 2007 and most of 2010. He signed with Washington as a minor league free agent in July 2011 and thrived in his first full season as a reliever in 2012, earning a September callup and a spot on the playoff roster. Garcia's stuff is electric. His fastball sits at 93-96 mph and regularly bumps 97 with good life and angle. His plus changeup has late sink, and he trusts it against both lefties and righties. The shape of his hard-biting curveball can vary, making it look more like a slider at times, but it has tight spin and good power in the low 80s. He's still learning how to command its break consistently, though it shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch. Garcia's command is a tick below average, but his stuff is good enough that he doesn't need pinpoint accuracy to succeed. Garcia has a smooth delivery without much effort, but his medical history will keep him in the bullpen. He'll open 2013 as a set-up man for the Nationals.
Garcia ranked as high as No. 5 on this list three years ago, before injuries of increasing severity started taking their toll. It began with an elbow strain in 2005 and an oblique strain in 2006. He missed all of 2007, first while recovering from Tommy John surgery and then with a knee problem that required reconstructive surgery as well. Last season, he came down with bursitis in his shoulder during spring training, and then elbow soreness flared up after he made five starts at midsummer. Primarily a catcher in high school until his senior season, Garcia needs the development time. He has long had a premium curveball and the pitch still has the same 12-to-6 break it had prior to his elbow surgery, though it hasn't quite regained its power. His fastball also has lost some velocity, now touching 92 mph rather than 96 and sitting at 90-91. He's still rebuilding his arm speed and it's likely he'll regain some velocity in the future if he can stay healthy. In the absence of his power, Garcia has added a changeup that has made surprising progress, and some in the organization consider it a plus pitch and the system's best. After pitching in the Eastern League playoffs, he was shut down for the winter and now must prove he can hold up over a full season. He has been added to the 40-man roster and will try to prove he can make a full complement of starts in 2009, likely starting in the warm weather of Tampa.
A high school catcher, Garcia shifted to the mound as a senior and emerged as a top pitching prospect. After missing a month in 2005 with an elbow strain, he was sidelined for much of 2006 by an oblique strain, but he looked strong when he returned. Yankees officials believe a healthy Garcia has almost as much upside as Hughes. While Hughes' curve has passed his as the organization's best, Garcia's is still a plus pitch, particularly when he throws it with purpose and power. His fastball is consistently in the low 90s, and as he refines his mechanics and continues to gain experience, it could sit in the mid-90s. He's learning to work off his fastball more and rely on his curve less. Garcia has pitched just 197 innings in three years as a pro, and while his biggest needs are an improved changeup and experience, he's about to miss another year of development time. Garcia tried to make up for lost time in Hawaii Winter Baseball, but he injured his elbow. He had surgery to reinforce a torn ligament and isn't expected to pitch again until 2008.
Garcia had signed to play catcher at South Carolina. While he played in the Palmetto State in 2005, it was in Charleston as a pitcher for the Yankees, as he signed for $390,000 as a third-round pick after moving to the mound as a high school senior. He missed a month with a right elbow strain but returned to finish his first full season strong. Garcia has the perfect pitcher's frame with wide shoulders, big hands and long limbs. He has a clean arm action that he repeats well. His fastball sits at 92-93 mph and touches 95, and he keeps it down in the strike zone. His curveball is a true hammer, a 12-to-6 pitch with power at 74-78 mph. Inexperience dogs Garcia on the field and off it, as some in the organization question his desire to be great. He relies too heavily on his curve for someone who has such a good fastball. His changeup is rudimentary at this point. Nuances such as setting hitters up and holding runners will have to come with experience. Garcia's upside is tremendous, but he's going to need time and has a lot to learn. He's expected to repeat low Class A in 2006.
The strong-armed Garcia committed to South Carolina as a catcher prior to his senior season at Gulliver Prep. Then his new high school coach, former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro Collazo, put Garcia on the mound with electric results. Garcia helped Gulliver Prep win the Florida 3-A championship in a game played at the Yankees' Legends Field in Tampa, then signed for $390,000. His combination of size, projection and pure arm strength gives Garcia a high ceiling. He has easy velocity on his fastball, working at 93-94 mph and topping out at 96. With more experience and refinement, he should throw even harder. His curveball, at times a true power hammer, could be a better pitch. Garcia is still raw on the mound. His changeup needs work and he must learn how to set up hitters and hold runners. He sometimes falls in love with his curve and doesn't throw his live fastball enough. Garcia could start 2005 in extended spring training before a June assignment to short-season Staten Island. A good spring would land him in low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Garcia finished a long, arduous journey to the majors in his third year in the Nationals system. Once one of the Yankees' top prospects, Garcia missed the entire 2007 season and most of 2010 following a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He stayed healthy in 2012 in his first full season as a full-time reliever and made Washington's postseason roster. Garcia brings frontline-starter stuff to the back of the bullpen as he trusts three pitches, starting with a 92-95 mph fastball that touches 97 regularly. His curveball was better earlier in his career but still has late break and some power in the low 80s. His changeup has late sink and has become his best secondary pitch. He throws all three pitches from the same arm slot and with similar arm speed. Garcia has improved his delivery by finishing out front better, reducing some of the strain his delivery used to put on his arm. The Nationals were careful with him, working him on back-to-back nights just twice. "He's weathered a lot of storms," Beasley said. "But he's got power stuff, good makeup and a good head on his shoulders for the closer role."
A promising catching prospect until his senior year of high school, Garcia was moved to the mound by Lazor Collazo, the former Miami pitching coach who became head coach at Miami's Gulliver Prep this spring. Collazo saw Garcia's 6-foot-5 frame was better suited to pitching than catching, and Garcia took to his new role immediately. He flashed a 94-95 mph fastball with movement. He also showcased a hammer curveball, which managers graded a 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale, meaning it already is a major league average breaking ball. "He made a lot of progress as a pitcher," said Braves manager Ralph Henriquez, who saw Garcia play in high school. "He's got a big league arm and is very aggressive. He really attacks hitters. He just needs experience."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Changeup in the Washington Nationals in 2014
- Rated Best Changeup in the Washington Nationals in 2013
- Rated Best Curveball in the New York Yankees in 2009
- Rated Best Curveball in the New York Yankees in 2006
- Rated Best Curveball in the New York Yankees in 2005
Background: After converting from catcher to pitcher as a prep senior, Garcia rocketed into the third round of the 2004 draft and signed with the Yankees. But his career was derailed by two Tommy John surgeries, costing him all of 2007 and most of 2010. He signed with Washington as a minor league free agent in July 2011 and thrived in his first full season as a reliever in 2012, earning a September callup and a spot on the playoff roster. Scouting Report: Garcia's stuff is electric. His fastball sits at 93-96 mph and regularly bumps 97 with good life and angle. His plus changeup has late sink, and he trusts it against both lefties and righties. The shape of his hard-biting curveball can vary, making it look more like a slider at times, but it has tight spin and good power in the low 80s. He's still learning how to command its break consistently, though it shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch. Garcia's command is a tick below average, but his stuff is good enough that he doesn't need pinpoint accuracy to succeed. The Future: Garcia has a smooth delivery without much effort, but his medical history will keep him in the bullpen. He'll open 2013 as a set-up man for the Nationals.