O's take notice of Garcia in intrasquad game

Rule 5 Draft pick from Red Sox strikes out two in perfect inning

O's take notice of Garcia in intrasquad game

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It was easy to hear the sound of Jason Garcia's fastball popping into catcher Caleb Joseph's glove inside a mostly empty Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It wasn't hard to tell that he piqued a few of his teammates' interest, either.

"He got a couple of our guys from the bench up to the top step," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Garcia, one of Baltimore's two Rule 5 Draft picks, showed off his hard fastball and effortless delivery as he worked a perfect inning with two strikeouts during the fourth frame of the Orioles' six-inning intrasquad game. Garcia struck out outfielders Nolan Reimold and Matt Tuiasosopo and got catcher Ryan Lavarnway to fly out to center field.

Garcia is only 22, and he has never pitched above Class A. He admitted after his outing that he was nervous. It was essentially the first time he'd faced Major League hitters.

"It felt good. It's what you work for, throwing against those guys," Garcia said. "Definitely it was a thrill. Pretty nervous out there, but it was awesome."

Garcia's fastball was clocked in the mid-90 mph range Sunday, a high radar reading for this time of the year. But the right-hander has impressed the Orioles since coming over from the Red Sox organization with his smooth delivery, so much so that Showalter believes he's capable of ramping up his velocity even more when the situation calls for it.

Still, Garcia's velocity received a lot of interest Sunday. Joseph pointed out that a hard thrower can get in hitters' minds, and it appeared Garcia did just that against Reimold in a 3-2 count. Reimold likely was expecting a fastball in that count, but Garcia instead offered up a slider and froze Reimold to strike him out.

"It's an easy, effortless delivery. Those are the kinds that really sneak up on you as a hitter, and he's definitely got that," Joseph said. "For kind of a younger guy, those are the things that are impressive."

It remains to be seen if the Orioles can hold on to Garcia. As a Rule 5 Draft pick, he would have to spend the entire season on Baltimore's active roster or disabled list, or the Orioles would have to work out a deal with the Red Sox to keep him. If not, he'd be passed through waivers, at which point any club could claim him and try to keep him on its roster.

Showalter acknowledged that it's still early to determine Garcia's future -- they haven't even started playing Grapefruit League games yet -- and that some might consider it a stretch to thrust a pitcher from Class A ball straight into the big leagues.

Nor is Garcia getting too caught up in where he'll wind up come April. He said the most important thing he's learned this spring is to "stay in the now," not worrying too much about where he's been or where he's going -- even as he sees onlookers breaking down every pitch and the Orioles hear his fastball sizzle into the catcher's glove.

"I try to just take this Spring Training and learn as much as possible," Garcia said. "The goal is hopefully to break with the team, but if not, just try to take in as much as I can."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.