Jaime Garcia was selected in the twenty-second round of the June 2005 First-Year Player draft. He attended Sharyland High School in Mission, TX, having grown up in Reynosa, Mexico. Legend has it, Joe Almaraz, formerly a scout for the Orioles who drafted Garcia in the 30th round in ’04, remembered he had a good curveball and talked the Cardinal brass into selecting Garcia.
Garcia has a plus plus curveball that is big league caliber already. He throws a low 90’s sinking fastball that can reach 94. He repeats his arm action and delivery while consistently throwing strikes. There are mixed feelings about his changeup. Baseball America feels he shows an advanced touch while Rotoworld believes he is still in search of a third pitch. I tend to go with Baseball America on this one.
He did not play in 2005, Garcia began 2006 with low Class A Quad Cities and went 5-4 with a 2.90 ERA, allowing 67 hits, striking out 80 and walking 18 in 77.2 innings pitched while opponents hit just .229 against him in 13 starts. He was promoted to high Class A Palm Beach on July 23 and went 5-4 with a 3.84 ERA, striking out 51 and walking 16 in 77.1 innings pitched. He was named to the All-Star Futures Game in July, although he did not appear in the game.
His 2006 totals between Low A and High A were 10 wins against eight losses. He had a 3.37 ERA between the two levels striking out 131 while only walking 34 in 155 innings. He did have a .282 BA against at Palm Beach, but he seemed to get knocked around after his promotion but then made adjustments to the league and the higher level of competition. Another impressive stat is he only gave up 4 homeruns the whole season. Garcia seemed to really buckle down with RISP, allowing hitters only a .215 BA. He had a 3.85 K to BB rate as a 20 year old at High A Palm Beach and Low A Quad Cities.
Baseball America rated him the 15th best prospect in the Florida State League and the 7th best prospect in the Midwest league. The prospects rated ahead of him in the Midwest League are a who’s who of some of the top prospects in baseball: Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin, Justin Upton, Cardinal Colby Rasmus, Nick Adenhart, and Jacob McGee.
Brian Smith of Sports Illustrated and Baseball Analysts had this to say, ” A good athlete, Garcia saw a rise in velocity once he stopped hitting, and now has significant life on a low-90s fastball. Between both levels he pitched at and winter league ball, Garcia had a 2.85 groundball-to-flyball ratio in 2006. Strikeouts and groundballs from a southpaw are a sure-fire predictor of future success in my book.” Smith rated him the 74th best prospect in baseball.
Garcia appeared out of the bullpen in eight regular-season games with Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican Winter League and went 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA over 12 2/3 innings.
The mathematicians like Garcia also; his projected VORP is higher then any other Cardinal starter excluding Carpenter, Wainwright and Reyes. PECOTA believes Garcia would be a more valuable starter then Mark Mulder and Kip Wells by a full win above replacement. Some interesting comparable players listed were Zach Duke, Troy Patton, and former Cardinal prospect, Bud Smith.
The Cardinals would prefer to start him at High A Palm Beach, but with a strong spring, he could definitely begin the year at Double A Springfield. I usually don’t get to0 excited about a player having one good year. I need to see a player do it consistently over several seasons, but how Garcia came out of nowhere and really put himself on the map is really impressive. He reminds me of another Latin player that went to high school in the U.S. that really wasn’t on anyone’s radar, made the team due to injury, and is now on his way to the Hall of Fame; El Hombre. No, I am not saying Garcia is going to be a superstar like Pujols, its just their stories have quite a few similarities. When I look at pitching I look at how many batters he allows on base for free and how many homers does he give up, two categories his defense can’t help with. I love his K to walk ratio. Also, he keeps the ball in the park. He had a 3 to 1 groundball to flyball ratio in the minors, something the Cardinal’s organization stresses. If he goes out and continues where he left off in 06 we might see him in St. Louis in September, possibly sooner with the rotation up in the air. I definitely see him in some role in the bigs in 2008.
Edmonds injuries and rehab are discussed by Joe Strauss’ article this morning. Being that Jimmy is 36 and has really no timetable for recovery, I have a feeling it could really be May 1 or later. I know the Cardinals do not want to rush him to avoid other setbacks. It is better to have him out in April instead of September. But I am a believer that the games are important in April. The more you win at the beginning, the fewer you may have to win at the end. I believe the 06 Cardinals are the prime example of that. That is a major focus of LaRussa this year. He doesn’t want this team to be complacent and come out with thoughts of what we did last year, instead he wants that forgotten and thoughts to be completely on a good start this year.
Cubs agreed to terms with RHP Carlos Zambrano on a one-year, $12.4 million contract.
Zambrano was asking for $15.5 million, while the Cubs were offering $11.025 million, and the case was set to be heard Tuesday afternoon. With all the money the Cubs spent this offseason, Jim Hendry’s first priority should have been to make his ace happy. As emotional as Zambrano is, I could really see his contract issue taking away his focus on the field and making things quite compelling for the Northsiders. If the Zambrano is not right, the Cubs will go nowhere.