Detroit Tigers: Is Rony Garcia a Future Swingman?
Rony Garcia will try to be the first Detroit Tiger Rule 5 pitcher to stick around all season since Wil Ledezma in 2002.
We had the opportunity to see Rony Garcia during the exhibition opener on Friday against Southeastern. He did not fair too well as he allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in just over an inning of work. Whether it was the game-time temperature or played a factor or not, Garcia will have plenty of chances coming out of the bullpen for the Tigers in 2020.
As Jay Markle alluded to in his preview piece, Garcia added a cutter when he was in Double-A Trenton last year. It grades as an average pitch but he also features a fastball, curveball & change-up. He pitches from a three-quarters arm angle which reminds me of former New York Yankee and Boston Red Sox reliever Ramiro Mendosa. His delivery repetition was a question heading into 2019 but looking at his progress from his short time in Tampa before getting the call up to Trenton, you can see the differences in his delivery in terms of his head control, it’s more steady than the beginning of the season, allowing a better follow-through.
His curveball averages around 76-78 MPH and it is viewed as a plus pitch. As indicated in the video, it has some bite with some 12-6 action. He got better as the season went on as he finished August strong with batters hitting just .195 against and a BABIP of .227 with 34 K’s in 31.1 innings pitched. The uptick in velocity as the season went on was a big reason why the Tigers drafted him number one.
This season will show the mental fortitude in Rony Garcia for several reasons. One, it will take some time to figure out his role coming out of the pen. He could pitch long relief after a starter gets shelled or one inning here and there. The mental preparation for each role is different so for Garcia, it may take a while in how Ron Gardenhire will use him. The other main reason is how he adjusts to batters at a major league level. Can he bounce back after he gets shelled or allows a go-ahead run? The Tigers are in for a long season so it is an important development to look out for.
Overall, this is an arm with a tremendous upside. The Tigers will be cautious with this 22-year old arm. He is coming across his career-high in innings pitched with 130. If the Tigers can continue to work with making his delivery consistent and his secondary pitches continue to evolve.