Signed as international free agent, Marlins No. 5 prospect keeps climbing up system
By Richard Justice
CINCINNATI -- This day symbolized his growth as both a player and a person. Strip everything else away, and that's the bottom line.
"It's been my dream to be here, play with a lot of great players," Jarlin Garcia said at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Great American Ball Park, which Garcia's World Team lost, 10-1.
The Marlins believe the 22-year-old left-hander has a bright future and might just be on the fast track to the big leagues.
Because Garcia isn't blessed with an overpowering fastball, he has had to focus on commanding the strike zone and changing speeds.
He's getting there, and quickly.
"A lot of guys think he's going to be a great Major League pitcher," said Marty Scott, Miami's vice president of player development. "I hope they're right."
Garcia had another learning experience on Sunday afternoon when he allowed three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings in the World Team's loss.
He entered the game in the second inning and retired the U.S. Futures in order. He opened the third inning by striking out Josh Bell, but things came undone after that.
He got roughed up for three hits and three earned runs. He also walked a hitter and departed with two outs in the inning.
All in all, it was a nice experience on the biggest stage Minor League Baseball offers.
"It's an opportunity for people to see my talent, to see me doing what I love, and to make the fans feel good," Garcia said.
Ranked by MLB.com as the Marlins' No. 5 prospect, Garcia will return to Class A Jupiter, where he's 2-5 with a 3.36 ERA. In 83 innings, he has 22 walks and 62 strikeouts. That walk-to-strikeout ratio is an indication of his growth.
"He doesn't throw anything straight," Scott said. "Everything moves. Good mound presence."
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Garcia played mostly soccer until a baseball coach his family knew invited him to try out for the sport.
"I started pitching," he said, "and had no idea what I was doing. But I struck out six straight batters."
The Marlins signed him as an international free agent in 2010, and Garcia began progressing through the system.
"Before I signed, I had a small injury in my arm that brought me down," he said. "But the support from my parents and my friends, they made me understand that I wanted to play baseball."
One of his early heroes was Pedro Martinez, a Dominican legend who'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this month.
"Everybody back home wants to be Pedro," Garcia said.
He has spoken to Martinez on a couple of occasions and considers it one of the highlights of his career. He's also pleased with the progress he has made in realizing his big league dream.
"I'm happy with how it's gone," Garcia said. "I still need to get a little bit more experience to get to my goal. Over time, I'll accumulate that experience."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.