Left-handed pitcher Hector Garcia hasn’t pitched since July 8th in Morgantown after going down with an elbow injury. I learned last night that Garcia had Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, and is expected to miss the rest of the year, along with all of next year.
Garcia got off to a great start this year with the Black Bears, throwing eight shutout innings in his first two starts, with three hits, one walk, and 11 strikeouts. This followed a successful run in the Bristol rotation last year where he had a 3.38 ERA in 48 innings, with a 50:19 K/BB ratio. The Pirates obviously liked what they saw with him, as they skipped him over the GCL and made him a starter in the US. There was good reason to like him, as he was a left-hander who could hit 92 MPH at the ages of 17 and 18. We had him ranked as the number 44 prospect in the system heading into the year, and the Pirates originally gave him a $190,000 signing bonus.
Earlier in the year, we learned that Garcia had worked with Francisco Liriano in Spring Training, getting tips on how to throw his slider and curveball. That might have been what led to the 11 strikeouts in his first eight innings. Unfortunately, things fell apart after that, and he walked nine batters in 6.1 innings over his next three starts, which may have been due to the injury.
Garcia was young for his level, and doesn’t turn 20 until early October. He will miss his age 20 season, but will be able to return at the age of 21. If he gets pushed up to West Virginia at that time, then he could still have a shot at a career, assuming he comes back with his old stuff. For now, he becomes another pitcher on a growing list of Tommy John rehab guys in the Pirates’ system.