Prospect Profile: Jose Garcia, P

Garcia was the Marlins' MiLB POY in 2006.

On Thursday, the Oakland A's claimed right-hander Jose Garcia off of waivers from the Florida Marlins organization. The A's may have to wait for a few months into next season to get a good look at their newest acquisition - as Garcia had Tommy John surgery this past May - but he should be worth the wait. We have a profile of the promising right-hander inside.

Jose Garcia, HT: 5'11'', W: 165, B/T: R/R
Career Stats

Year

Team

Lg

Age

W/L

ERA

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

H/9

BB/9

K/9

2005

Marlins

GCL

20

0-0

0.00

2.0

1

0

0

1

3

0

4.5

4.5

13.5

2005

GRNSBORO

SAL

20

3-0

1.27

28.1

11

5

4

4

39

1

3.49

1.27

12.39

2005

JUPITER

FSL

20

0-0

18.00

2.0

2

4

4

2

0

0

9.00

9.00

0.00

2006

JUPITER

FSL

21

6-2

1.96

76

61

31

17

16

71

3

7.04

1.85

8.19

2006

CAROL

SOU

21

6-7

3.40

84.2

78

37

32

25

87

10

8.29

2.66

9.25

2006

ALBUQ

PCL

21

0-1

11.25

4.0

5

5

5

4

5

0

11.25

9.00

11.25

2006

FL

MLB

21

0-0

4.91

11

10

6

6

5

8

1

8.18

4.09

6.55


Background
After a 2006 season that put Garcia on the map, the 2007 season was a disappointment for the Dominican right-hander. At the close of the 2006 campaign, Garcia looked poised to become a fixture on the Florida Marlins pitching staff. Garcia was the Marlins' "2006 Minor League Player of the Year" after he struck out 163 batters in 165 innings spread over three minor league levels. He represented the Marlins in the 2006 minor league Futures Game, allowing a two-run homerun to the Royals' Billy Butler in one inning of work. Garcia made his major league debut with Florida on September 11, 2006, and he appeared in five games with the Marlins in relief, allowing six runs in 11 innings.

Prior to his breakthrough 2006 season, Garcia was a relative unknown in the Marlins' chain. He was signed as an undrafted free agent as a 17 year old by Florida in 2002 out of the Dominican Republic. Garcia spent three seasons with the Marlins' Dominican Summer League club, where he found a lot of success. In three years, Garcia never had an ERA higher than 2.83 and he struck-out 213 batters while walking only 37 in 177.2 innings over three years in the DSL.

In 2005, the Marlins finally allowed Garcia a chance to pitch in the United States, and he moved up three levels in a half-season, pitching for the rookie league Gulf Coast Marlins, Low-A Greensboro of the Sally League and High-A Jupiter of the Florida State League. Although he sported an impressive 42:7 K:BB ratio in 2005, he was somewhat of an afterthought for the Marlins at the start of the 2006 season.

Garcia changed that perception quickly by excelling early in the 2006 season with High-A Jupiter, posting a 6-2 record and a 1.87 ERA in 12 games (11 starts). That earned him a promotion in early June to Double-A Carolina, where he quickly found similar success. Over his first five starts with Carolina, Garcia allowed nine runs in 30.1 innings and he struck out 28 batters while walking 13. He was then promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque, where he made one start, allowing five runs in four innings. Garcia then returned to Double-A, where, despite that bad start in Triple-A, he continued to find success. After posting a 3.40 ERA in 14 starts for Carolina, Garcia was given a September call-up by the Marlins. He made five relief appearances for Florida, striking out eight and posting a 4.91 ERA.

Coming into spring training 2007, Garcia was considered a strong candidate to make the Florida Opening Day roster, either as a starter or a reliever. However, he developed elbow soreness in March, which caused a big drop in velocity for Garcia. He tried to rehab the elbow non-surgically, but was placed on the 60-day DL. He eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in May. Garcia was carried on the Florida 40-man roster for the entire 2007 season, but was dropped off of the roster in October and was claimed by the Oakland A's.

Scouting Report
Garcia has been a starting pitcher throughout his career, although his slight build might be better suited for a relief role. When healthy, Garcia generally throws his fastball in the 89-92 range and he occasionally touches 93 MPH. He has a plus change-up and a good curveball. Garcia tends to get a lot of groundballs, as well.

Garcia has the two things that the A's most look for in their minor league pitchers: good strikeout totals and excellent command. He also has good secondary pitches, something that the A's emphasize strongly with all of their minor league hurlers. When he is at his best, Garcia pounds the strike-zone and he isn't afraid to come inside to left-handers. However, there are times when he shies away from pitching on the inner-half to lefties, which can make him vulnerable against southpaws. Lefties have consistently hit better against Garcia than right-handed hitters throughout his career.

Although this isn't likely to come into play with the A's, Garcia is also a decent hitter. In 2006, he batted .333 with six hits in 18 at-bats and six sacrifice bunts. He has one major league hit in two at-bats. He is athletic and is generally considered a good fielder.

Outlook
Garcia's future will depend greatly on his ability to recover from Tommy John surgery. The recovery and rehab period for that surgery is usually nine months to a year, so Garcia won't likely be pitching in games until a month or two into the 2008 season. More than likely, Garcia will spend a decent amount of time in Triple-A Sacramento before he gets a look at the major league level.

Although he may be a reliever long-term, the A's figure to keep him in the starting rotation for at least a little while, as the team is relatively thin in the upper levels in starting pitching prospects. Garcia turns 23 in January, which means that he will be one of the youngest players in the A's upper levels of the minor leagues next season, assuming he is sent to Triple-A. Once he is healthy, the A's may work with Garcia to develop a cut fastball as a way to attack left-handed hitters a little bit better. He will be someone to watch during the second half of the 2008 season.

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