Garcia, 27, is back now. More than two years after his second elbow reconstruction, Garcia has become the Washington Nationals’ best relief prospect and a possible September call-up. He is not on the Nationals’ 40-man roster (which currently sits at 39 players), but his jet-fueled stuff and his absurd numbers warrant consideration. In fact, Manager Davey Johnson hinted on Friday that Garcia could be called up once Syracuse’s season ends.
3 innings between Class AAA Syracuse and Class AA Harrisburg, Garcia has allowed five earned runs — 0.89 ERA — while striking out 64 and walking 17. He became the closer at Syracuse, where he has a 0.59 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 301
The Nationals signed Garcia last July, after he threw a bullpen session for a handful of their evaluators in Viera, Fla. He had been a starting prospect for the New York Yankees, who chose him with their third-round pick in 2004. Pat Corrales, now a Nationals’ roving minor league instructor and a baseball man for more than half a century, says three arms stood apart in the Nationals’ system this year: Alex Meyer, Nathan Karns and Garcia.
Greg Booker, the Syracuse pitching coach, said Garcia could “absolutely” get batters out in the majors right now. Garcia throws his four-seam fastball 96 miles per hour consistently and touches 98, with a diving sinker that zips around 94. He has a 12-to-6 curve and a high-80s change-up.
“He’s definitely throwing above-average major league stuff,” Booker said.
After eight years in professional baseball and an endless rehab schedule, Garcia may get to use it in the major leagues. His first Tommy John surgery came in 2006, when he was 20, and he missed the entire 2007 season. It was hard, but typical enough for a young pitcher. He came back in 2008 for a partial season, appearing in 14 games.
The next year, his right elbow began aching again, the same pain he felt before his first Tommy John surgery. He made five starts, pitching through the pain, and punched up a 0.71 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 17 walks in 251
3 innings. “It was hurting so bad I couldn’t throw strikes,” Garcia said. “I would still get outs. I would walk the bases loaded, and then get the next three out.”
Garcia could barely get the ball to the plate. He started bouncing fastballs five feet short. He told Yankees officials and trainers he was positive he had torn his ligament again. They sent him to James Andrews, who diagnosed a bone spur and decompression in his nerve. Andrews, Garcia said, shaved down the spur and scraped scar tissue away.