Pittsburgh Pirates: Previewing High-A Greensboro’s Potential Starting Rotation

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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 11: General view of the field during a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks before the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Nationals at PNC Park on September 11, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Nick Garcia

In the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Nick Garcia. Garcia, who came out of Chapman University, didn’t allow a single home run in 83 innings at the collegiate level. Garcia served as a reliever in 2018 and 2019 but opened the 2020 season as a starting pitcher.

Garica didn’t have a defined role with the Bradenton Marauders in 2021. He pitched in 21 total games with 13 games started. All told, he logged 74.2 innings with a 4.22 ERA, 4.93 FIP, and 1.353 WHIP. Although Garcia’s 24.8% strikeout rate and 1.08 HR/9 weren’t awful, he walked batters at a 10.4% rate.

Garcia could see his home run rate decrease as he moves forward if he keeps up the same batted ball rates he put up in 2021. Despite having an HR/9 over 1.0, he had a 50.5% ground ball rate and 32.8% fly ball rate. With just a 16.7% line drive rate, Garcia arguably could have been much better than he was with the Marauders.

Garcia has a four-pitch mix. He only throws in the mid-90’s but averages 2550 RPM. That makes it the highest spin fastball in the Pirate system and tied with the Jones, as mentioned earlier, and right-hander Michael Burrows. He also throws a slider, curveball, and changeup. According to FanGraphs, he grew a feel for all of his offerings, and they all have the potential to reach an average or better level eventually.

As with any young arm considered a relatively notable prospect in a farm system, the Pittsburgh Pirates will keep Garcia as a starter until he can’t prove he can be one. Garcia is still considered a higher ceiling prospect within the Pirate organization. If he can improve one pitch to an above-average level, he might just figure it out as a starter.