Spent a few minutes with Yimi Garcia before Friday night’s Arizona Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium. The Dodgers right-hander is in his protection year, which means he will have to be added to the 40-man roster by Nov. 20 or he is exposed to the Rule 5 draft, and he almost certainly will be added because he is one of the organization’s top relief prospects. He says no one in the organization has given him any indication either way, but that’s standard practice — teams don’t like to tip their hands, even to the players involved.
Garcia, 23, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in January 2009. He didn’t give up a run in any of his first five appearances for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL, a span of 6 2/3 innings (yes, relievers occasionally are allowed to go multiple innings in the AFL). Since then, he has been scored upon in three of four outings, but that probably can be chalked up to fatigue as he pitches deeper into the year.
In addition to likely being added to the 40-man, Garcia has an outside shot of reaching the majors sometime in 2014. He is coming off his first full season at Double-A Chattanooga, where he made 49 appearances and posted a 2.54 ERA and had a WHIP of 0.812. He also had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6:1.
In 2009, Garcia debuted with the Dodgers by dominating in the Dominican Summer League. A year later, though, he had a rude awakening in the Arizona Rookie League, as his ERA blew up to 7.04.
“I didn’t know what had happened,” Garcia said. “I had always thrown my fastball down the middle, and in the Dominican, you could get guys out that way, just blowing it by them. But I came back that next year, 2011 (at Ogden in the Rookie-level Pioneer League), and I started using my slider and my changeup a lot more.”
By becoming more of a pitcher than just a thrower, Garcia posted a 3.10 ERA at Ogden in 2011, split 2012 between low Single-A Great Lakes and advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and then spent all of 2013 at Chattanooga, gradually shaving down his ERA at each stop.
By the way, a few minutes after we spoke, Garcia was playing catch in the outfield while the Scottsdale Scorpions took batting practice, and he was grazed in the left (non-throwing) shoulder by a line drive that struck him on the fly. Apparently, Garcia was OK, as he went right back to throwing. He wasn’t scheduled to pitch that night, but he came back the following afternoon to give up a run on one hit over one inning.