2006 Ranking: 37
School: Did not attend school in 2005. Attended Sharyland High School (Mission, TX) in 2004.
Cardinal: Selected in the 22nd round of the June, 2005 First-Year Player
Draft. Signed to a 2006 contract on July 16, 2005.
Jason Scott (4): The Cardinals' lone representative in the Futures Game this past season, Garcia ranked No. 37 in our rankings last year despite having never played a professional game. He did very well at Quad Cities and Palm Beach in 2006, going a combined 10-8 with a 2.90 ERA, leading the organization with 131 strikeouts. He was very strongly considered for the Birdhouse Pitcher of the Year Award.
The 20-year-old left hander throws a sinking fastball that can reach the mid-90s, a very good curveball and a changeup. He did very well at producing ground balls last season, posting a GO/AO of 2.90. I expect him to be assigned to Springfield to begin the season.
Leonda Markee (3): Jaime Garcia is my second-ranked pitching prospect in the Cardinals' system in 2006 and my third-ranked overall prospect. Garcia did not pitch in a regular season game in 2005 due to work visa issues so 2006 was his professional debut. Garcia's out pitch is a 74-78 mph curveball that he mixes with a 91-94 mph sinking fastball and a change that also has some sink to it. Like many young (and some not-so-young) pitchers, Garcia has a tendency to fall in love with a particular pitch and throw it to excess. His 2006 groundball-to-flyball ratio was close to three-to-one which fits in quite well with the Cardinals' pitching philosophy.
Garcia did somewhat better against righties than he did lefties while at Quad Cities (.568 vs. .613 OPS) but their respective BABIPs of .309 vs. 340 may be the equalizer. However, those splits reversed dramatically at Palm Beach where opposing righties posted a .735 OPS while lefties were limited to a .538 OPS. The lefty splits of .225/.257/.282/.538 appear to be an accurate reflection of his pitching since the BABIP was .302. However, the righty splits of .302/.344/.391/.735 included a .345 BABIP which indicates Garcia was somewhat unlucky.
Garcia reached High-A ball before his 20th birthday and in his first professional season. Those two facts, in addition to his left-handedness, were major components in my ranking of him. However, Garcia's performance data is very limited so 2007 should give a better indication of his abilities. It is possible that Garcia will begin 2007 at Double-A Springfield but it is more likely that he begins back at High-A Palm Beach due to his youth, inexperience and 2006 performance at that level.
Ray Mileur (5): Drafted out of high school in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft, the 20-year-old Garcia will start the season at Double-A Springfield.
Considered very advanced for his age, Garcia attacks the strike zone with a 91-93 MPH sinker and a plus curve and a good change up. The Cardinals coaches are high on him because of his ground-to-fly ratio of nearly three-to-one.
He split playing time between Low-A Quad Cities and High-A Palm Beach, finishing with a combined record of 10-8 with a 3.37 ERA in 23 starts. I liked that he pitched an average of 6.7 innings per start in his first professional season, last year.
From #37 last year to #3 this year and naturally no one has risen through the ranks any faster in recent memory. Leonda even considered him for our Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Perhaps next season.
Garcia is likely to play at Memphis at some point next season and he may even get a cup of coffee in the majors.
Brian Walton (2): I really like Garcia's curveball a lot. In fact, what is there not to like here? The lefty is only 20 years old and is already showing he belonged at A-Advanced level after being dominant at Quad Cities, where he appeared in the Midwest League All-Star Game.
Garcia's strikeout-to-walk ratio was superb, almost 4:1, his motion is smooth and his fastball can reach the magic 90 MPH mark without apparent issue. He fanned 131 and walked just 34 in 155 innings in 2006.
The sky is the limit, which is why I rated Garcia as my top pitching prospect in the Cardinals organization.
STAFF COMMENTS KEY: Staff Member (Individual Ranking), NR = Not Rated
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