Player Review/Preview: Luis Garcia


Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Garcia

Key 2013 Stats: 24 Games, 31.1 IP, 1.6 WHIP, 6.6 SO/9, 6.6 BB/9

What happened in 2013:

Signed by the Phillies as a free agent in March of 2103, Luis Garcia was signed originally in 2007 by the Dodgers as a free agent in the Dominican Republic at 19 years old. In 2009 he was traded to the Nationals as part of the Ronnie Belliard deal and was released by the Nats in 2010 after some visa troubles.

Out of baseball in 2011, Garcia was training to be a hair stylist and working for a moving company. In 2012 he rejoined Newark Bears of the independent CAN-AM league and eventually was spotted by Phillies scout Sal Agnostelli, who arranged a workout for him in Long Island after hearing some glowing reports about him. Another workout followed in the Carpenter Complex with more Phillies eyes on him and he signed shortly thereafter.

Starting out in Clearwater, Garcia rocketed up the ranks of the minors, stopping briefly in AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley before making his Major League debut on July 10, 2013, after replacing Phillippe Aumont on the Phillies roster.

Garcia is 6’2” 215 pounds and 26 years old. He has essentially a two-pitch arsenal: a fastball, which averages 94.1 mph and a slider, which averages 83.3 mph. The fastball gets up to 97 and has some sink to it, which helped him to a 1.34 Ground Ball to Fly Ball ratio. The slider is just effective enough to make his fastball better by keeping batters from sitting on it. With the Phillies in 2013 he threw 64.5% fastballs and 35.5% sliders.

Control was a big problem for Garcia. He started out well in July before running into the Tigers on July 28, walking in two runs before giving up a grand slam to Jhonny Peralta. In August, Garcia continued to struggle overall, walking 10 in 10 innings and giving up 9 earned runs. September was better for Garcia as he lowered his walk rate, notched his first win and pitched 2 or more innings in 5 of 7 appearances.

What to expect in 2014:

Luis Garcia’s story is compelling and he’s easy to root for but ideally he will provide depth at AAA to start the season. The fastball is for real but with opposing batters reaching base at a .370 clip he will be little help to the Phillies at the big league level. Unless he improves his control he’ll soon be shaving sideburns again instead of strike zones.

At this stage Garcia projects as a mop up man. If he can’t trim his walks in half he’ll be back to mopping up hair instead of ballgames and his blowouts will be with a hair dryer instead of against the Detroit Tigers. It’s a measure of how badly Aumont did that a guy like Garcia could replace him and be an improvement. Maybe Garcia can teach Phillippe how to work the hair clippers, too, and they can open up a salon together for wayward pitchers — just don’t expect a straight hairline and be prepared to sew your ear back on.