Deivi Garcia is only 20 years old, but it already seems like Yankees fans have been hearing about his name forever. The team’s top prospect is tantalizingly close to helping the team at the big-league level, but it still might be best for the Yankees to exercise some patience with their prized pitcher.
The Yankees have a couple of openings on their pitching staff for the 2020 season, but that doesn’t mean the team has to shoehorn Garcia into a spot if he’s not ready. The top three spots of the team’s rotation are set, plus the team will presumably acquire another proven arm. Then, the Yankees could choose between J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery, and Domingo German (if he’s still on the team) for the fifth spot, or even add someone else. As for the bullpen, the Yankees have a host of young relievers who are qualified for the last spot in the ‘pen without even mentioning Garcia.
Now, this is not to say that if Garcia lights it up in spring training and impresses the team’s new pitching coach that he shouldn’t make the team. If he is truly ready to help the Yankees, Garcia should earn a spot. However, the Yankees are in a fortunate position where they do not have to rush him to the big leagues out of necessity, like they’ve done with other pitching prospects before like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Luis Severino. While those pitchers were all almost ready, the team actively needed them to complete their rotation and thrust them into playoff situations at a young age. The Yankees won’t have to do that this year. Instead, they can take their time and be patient with Garcia.
When he’s finally deemed ready, Garcia has several qualities that can immediately play up in the bigs. His strikeout ability (career 416 strikeouts in 293.2 minor league innings) and his tendency to avoid the home run ball (23 home runs allowed over 65 minor league games) are traits that will serve him well from the get-go.
However, it is important to remember too that Garcia is far from a finished product, or even a sure thing. At 5’9” and 163 pounds, there are long-term questions about his durability, and after just six starts and 11 appearances at Triple-A, Garcia would benefit from some extra time in Scranton. Minor league numbers aren’t always the best way to evaluate minor leaguers, but his 5.40 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in his brief time at Triple-A show that there is still room for improvement against tougher competition, particularly with his control.
This isn’t a major issue for Garcia though. Again, he is just 20 years old, and already way ahead of his development curve, and will probably help the Yankees at some point in 2020 now that he’s on the 40-man roster. However, the Yankees are in a good spot depth-wise where they don’t need Garcia to make the team out of spring training. Instead, Garcia will get promoted on his own terms, when he’s truly ready for the rigors of an MLB season. With pitching prospects regarded as the most finicky and hard to predict, giving Garcia a little bit longer to grow might not be a bad thing for his development.