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Hard Work Pays Off For Alfredo Garcia

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Toward the end of minor league camp, farm director Zach Wilson said that 19-year-old lefthander Alfredo Garcia had "put himself in position” to begin the season in the low Class A Asheville rotation after taking "a giant leap forward” since last year.

A Venezuelan who signed for $1 million in 2016, Garcia made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2017. He moved up to Rookie-level Grand Junction last year and went 2-5, 4.99 in 11 games (10 starts) while averaging 10.7 hits allowed, 3.9 walks and 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings.

"He got hit around a little bit, but he just kept pitching,” Wilson said, "and he had no fear of doing it. And to do that your first year over here and then to expand upon that coming into this camp, that’s really, really encouraging.”

In instructional league and the Rockies’ Dominican instructional program, Garcia worked diligently to improve his balance over the rubber and alignment to the plate. Wilson said the work Garcia has done on his delivery "has allowed him to be a more consistent strike-thrower with better stuff” and a better chance of executing.

"He likes to pitch inside,” Wilson said, "wants to pitch inside, goes in there with some frequency and not just for effect. He goes in there to get outs.”

Before camp, Garcia also worked hard physically, which put him in excellent shape and gave his velocity a boost. He’s about 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Wilson said, with the type of body that will require him to monitor his weight.

Garcia sits 91-93 mph with downhill plane and tops out at 95. His 77-80 mph changeup is ahead of his breaking pitch because it’s more consistent. And Garcia throws what Wilson called "a power slurve” that could develop into a true curveball.

"Every once in a while, he’ll throw one that’s plus,” Wilson said. "It’s sharp. It’s later (breaking). There’s good velocity to it at 75-80 (mph). I think as he continues to increase his arm strength and his arm speed, it’s probably going to be more consistently in that 78-81 (mph) range.”

ROCKY ROADS

— Shortstop Eddy Diaz, the first Cuban-born player signed by the Rockies, had an appendectomy on March 20. The 19-year-old will be sidelined four to six weeks. Diaz, who signed for $750,000, will have time in extended spring training to get enough at-bats to prepare for the start of the short-season leagues.

Last year, in his second season in the DSL, Diaz exhibited bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline that are advanced for a young player. He started 36 games at shortstop and 13 at second base while hitting .309/.417/.436. He stole 54 bases in 62 attempts and had more walks (31) than strikeouts (17).

— Wilson said third baseman Josh Fuentes had "a good chance to break camp" with Triple-A Albuquerque. On Feb. 18, at the outset of his first big league camp, Fuentes broke his left hamate bone but was taking batting practice without restrictions and was expected to begin playing in minor league games toward the start of the final week of March.

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