Friday, February 16, 2018

2018 Phillies Prospects Countdown: #15 LHP Elniery Garcia

Elniery Garcia, image- Jay Floyd
Despite missing time last season due a performance enhancing drug suspension, left-hander Elniery Garcia is one of the Phillies' most promising pitching prospects.

Signed as a 17-year-old in 2011, Garcia would start his professional career in the Dominican Summer League the following year.  There, he would post a 2-1 record with a 4.18 ERA and a .253 batting average against in eight appearances.

The following year, he pitched in the rookie level Gulf Coast League posting a 1-3 record with a 5.15 ERA and a .291 BAA in nine starts.

In 2014, the progressing Garcia would split his time in the GCL and with the short-season Class A Williamsport team. In 11 combined games (four starts), he tallied a 2-2 record with a 2.64 ERA and a .254 BAA while striking out 28 and walking six in 30 2/3 innings.

He would debut in full season ball the following year with Class A Lakewood. In 21 starts for the BlueClaws, Garcia notched an 8-9 record with a 3.21 ERA, a .275 BAA as well as a 5.0 K/9 mark.

In 2016 the six-foot tall 155-pounder stepped up and looked more like a standout talent. In 20 games (19 starts) as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, en route to being honored as a Florida State League All-Star, he posted a 12-4 record with a 2.68 ERA, a .219 BAA along with a 7.0 K/9 mark. 

Garcia would make his Double-A debut with Reading in the post-season in 2016, collecting a win in the Eastern League division series against Trenton. In six innings of work, he surrendered three runs (two earned) while striking out four and walking one.

To start the 2017 season, Garcia was mysteriously not assigned to a full-season roster.  An injury was suspected, but during the second week of the season news broke that Garcia had tested positive for PED's and would miss 80 games. 

After serving his suspension, Garcia made two warm-up starts for the Gulf Coast League team, notching five scoreless frames.  After moving to the Reading roster, Garcia's base numbers were good, as he sported a 2-1 record with a 1.75 ERA and a .193 BAA.  However, the strike out the walk ratio  (10:17 in 25 2/3 innings) was alarming. 

Usually a pitcher with solid command and no difficulty with issuing many free passes, the youngster showed rust after missing nearly three months of action.  Figuring that this handful of regular season appearances for Garcia were essentially his spring training, the walks shouldn't weigh too heavy on anyone's opinion of his efforts.

He made his Triple-A debut in the postseason for Lehigh Valley.  In five innings of work, he allowed four earned runs while striking out six, walking one, while allowing seven hits and a wild pitch in that outing.  

He'd spend a month in the Arizona Fall League following the playoffs.  In four starts Garcia would post a 1-2 record with a 5.79 ERA.  Additionally, the strike out to walk ratio was back to a normal range at 13:4 in 14 innings.

The 23-year-old's repertoire features a solid three-pitch menu. In previous seasons, his fastball resides around 95 MPH. His curveball looks to be a go-to offering with good, sweeping movement. His change up appeared to be a pitch that the youngster focused on improving and he has tossed a slider at times in his pro career as well.

Phils coaches have praised his ability to work through difficult spots and they like his mental toughness.  Following the PED concern it will be key for Garcia to show that he can be strong enough and durable enough to compete and contribute for a full season.

No longer on the team's 40-man roster and not invited to big league spring training this year, Garcia will likely open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  If he can prove himself and get back into the Phillies' good graces, Garcia could make an impact on the top roster before too long.

You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.
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