In our look at the Miami Marlins' consensus top prospects, Jarlin Garcia ranked third on the list behind two young, inexperienced, highly-drafted pups in Tyler Kolek and Josh Naylor. Whereas those two guys were picked in the draft with large expectations, Garcia was an international signing, one of the few the Marlins actually have made in recent years. Garcia did not come terribly heralded, but he has slowly climbed the ranks to the point where he is considered the Marlins' likely best mix between prospect upside and readiness.
Garcia was an international signing from the Dominican Republic in 2010. The Fish picked him up for a $40,000 bonus, and as of right now that has been worth it. He started off in rookie ball and has made a methodical climb up the levels. His first eye-catching performance was in the New York-Penn League, where he dominated in short-season ball with Batavia in 2013. From there, he has taken it a year and a level at a time in full-season play, putting up strong peripheral numbers in 2014 with Low-A Greensboro.
The 2015 campaign brought similarly good performances that seemed normal for Garcia's steady climb. After a mixed bag in Greensboro in terms of ERA versus his underlying numbers, he left no questions in 2015 about his work in High-A Jupiter. His strikeouts dropped down to 17.2 percent, but he maintained a low walk rate and posted a 3.06 ERA and 3.05 FIP on unsuspecting Florida State League hitters.
Things were not as pretty moving up to Double-A, as his seven-start stint had more strikeouts and walks and an overall worse performance.
When watching Garcia, the first thing you can easily notice is the visible amount of "snap" he seems to have on the delivery. The windup and approach is slow, but the arm motion comes out quickly and violently, and there is a lot of head-snapping to the third-base side. It makes for a poor visual on his delivery and is what most people consider "violent" in describing his motion.
The motion does add some amount of deception to it, and that may help to complement Garcia's decent offerings. He has a fastball that sits low-90's and, as seen in the video, can touch 95 mph. His second-best pitch is a change-up that he seemingly developed significantly since last season, establishing it as his next go-to pitch. The change has good velocity difference; based on limited Pitch F/X data from before Spring Training, he seems to have about a seven mph difference with the velocity. His curveball is his next best pitch, but the delivery makes it so that he loses touch on the pitch for stretches, as was the case in 2015, when he had to "re-develop" his feel for the pitch. The slider is his final offering and has been described as strictly mediocre.
Garcia right now appears to be a two-pitch guy with a developing third pitch, but the problem also comes with the consistency and long-term health concerns for his delivery. The motion opens him up, kicks him further than desired to the third-base side, and has his arm falling behind and snapping to make the pitch. It's an all-out effort throw, which is concerning for potential future elbow problems. These sorts of risks have experts thinking Garcia may be doomed for the bullpen, where a lesser pitch arsenal is more acceptable and he can use his motion for short stretches at a time. At the same time, the ceiling as a starter is low, as Garcia still has no strong out pitches to get same-handed hitters out. This leaves him as a control-type guy who pounds the strike zone to garner value, which is more limited to a back-end starter.
Garcia has been optioned to Double-A and rightfully so. He did not display dominance at that level, and the jump from the low minors to Double-A is the biggest one to make. Garcia may have been able to get away with a deceptive delivery and decent fastball in the low minors, but guys who reach Double-A are either veterans or better prospects, and that level of competition may better pick up his stuff and force him to diversify his game.
Still, it is too early to be concerned enough to convert him to a reliever. He is 23 years old, and while the motion is likely something the Marlins will have a hard time weaning, Garcia has not gotten hurt during his run thus far. Provided no huge warning signs stick out this year, Garcia should be allowed to do his thing and see how he develops in Double-A. If he can maintain control and improve on his command and placement of secondary pitches, he could see a cup of coffee in 2016 in the rotation. If he struggles at this level, however, it could warrant an early look at a bullpen move with potential for later inning work.
4) Jarlin Garcia, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, posted 3.06 ERA, 69/23 K/BB in 97 innings in High-A, 4.91 ERA with 35/17 K/BB in 37 innings in Double-A. 90-95 fastball, good curve and improved change, command can get sloppy but when he’s on he looks like a steady number four starter, perhaps more.
- John Sickels, Minor League Ball
While Garcia’s upside isn’t massive, he looks like a mid-rotation starter—and feasibly more if the change flashes plus on a more consistent basis. This is the name that received the most differing opinions when finalizing this list, though, and there could be more volatility than the profile suggests.
- Baseball Prospectus staff
The delivery limits how much growth he has in front of him for me, and as a result I think he ends up being a solid reliever with late-innings potential. In the meantime, his fastball control will allow him to get more reps in the rotation, with a move likely to happen as he maxes out his potential in the rotation this year or next.
- Dan Farnsworth, FanGraphs