SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The newest RailRider took things pretty easy Thursday. Deivi Garcia played catch, got in some running with teammate Raynel Espinal, and shagged fly balls during batting practice before the team’s game in Syracuse.
He won’t make his Triple-A debut until the RailRiders return home, and he’ll face a big test right off the bat.
Garcia is scheduled to start Monday against Columbus, owner of the best record in the International League at 55-33 (.625). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
“I’ve had him before, so I’m pretty excited to have him period,” RailRiders manager Jay Bell said. “He’s a good, quality pitcher. He’s an up-and-comer. He’s a guy that we have high expectations for. Man, he’s been electric this year. He’s dominated. He dominated Double-A.”
Overall, Garcia is 4-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. In 68.2 innings, he racked up 114 strikeouts and walked only 33, holding hitters to a .198 average — .193 at Double-A. Those numbers helped get him to the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, where he got the start for the American League and pitched a perfect first inning.
Garcia will enter his first Triple-A start just 5.1 innings shy of his total workload from last season, which was a 14-inning bump from 2017. While Bell said he’s not at all worried about Garcia’s innings, the RailRiders will help manage it by moving to a six-man rotation: Daniel Camarena, Randall Delgado, Chance Adams, Brody Koerner, Garcia and Espinal.
Garcia, at just 5-foot-9, 163 pounds, profiles as more of a fly ball-and-strikeout pitcher, rather than a ground ball-and-strikeout pitcher. At Double-A, he got .82 groundouts for every air out and had a ground-ball rate of 41.9 percent. Columbus leads the league in home runs (149) and ranks third in OPS (.821), so the Clippers will offer a tough challenge right away. One thing that could be in Garcia’s corner (besides his mid 90s fastball, knee-buckling curveball and natural deception): Columbus also leads the league in strikeouts with 879.