BRADENTON, Fla. – Yeudy Garcia was the breakout prospect of the year in 2015, and there were some high hopes for his 2016 season. Statistically, he had a good year, with a 2.76 ERA and a 127:54 K/BB ratio in 127.1 innings. But throughout the year, his command was off, leading to short outings and high pitch counts.

Garcia was dealing with a shoulder injury throughout the year, with that soreness finally leading to a doctor visit in Pittsburgh in September. No major surgery was needed, and he took the offseason to rest and recover. He now feels a lot stronger coming into the 2017 season.

“It feels much better after last year,” Garcia said, through translator Danny Arribas. “Last year I was throwing a little bit uncomfortable with something in my shoulder. Now, I feel a lot better.”

Now that Garcia is feeling healthy, he’s working on a few fixes to his game. One of those I noticed today, with a bit of an adjustment to his delivery. I asked him about the change after he threw two innings of live BP this afternoon.

“I was doing an incorrect movement with my push-off leg,” Garcia said. “We’re working on making that better, and that’s what I’m working on right now.”

The adjustment is aimed at getting better command of his pitches, which was an issue last year. So far the results have been encouraging.

“Ever since I’ve been working on it, I’ve been working on the direction of my foot placement out of the windup,” Garcia said. “Now, I have better command over the pitches since working on it.”

Garcia had some nasty stuff before the shoulder issues, with the ability to sit at an easy 93-96 MPH, touching higher. He didn’t have the same velocity last year, usually sitting 90-94 and touching 95. No word on his velocity at this point in camp, but he does have the usual movement on his pitches, and we’ve been getting some good reviews of his stuff this spring, along with seeing it today.

Last year, Garcia used his slider a bit too often, making the pitch ineffective due to the amount of exposure it had. In the second half he added a changeup that worked for him, and started throwing it more often. This led to his slider being more effective, since he could use the fastball/changeup combo to get ahead in the count, and the slider to put hitters away. Having better command of his pitches will only help this approach.

Garcia told me that he will be moving up to Altoona in 2017. The hope is that his command issues are fixed with the recent adjustment and with the rest to his shoulder. After his breakout season in 2015, he looked like he could have the upside of a starter in the majors, and more than just a back of the rotation guy. He could still have that starter upside if his old command and stuff returns, and he mixes in what he learned last year about how to use his pitches. He’s got the stuff to be a nasty reliever if the starter approach doesn’t work out, but the Pirates are keeping him in the rotation for now, hoping to maximize his upside.

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  1. Do you have a room in your house dedicated to Osuna? A room filled with pictures and articles of him, maybe t-shirts that you had made with his face on it?

  2. The depth that the farm system has is something to brag about. There are concerns of the gap between the upper levels and what is correctly in the lowers, but I don’t share that concern, trading players like Cutch and Cole might restock the lower levels.

    • Use this draft and International signing period to stock up on lower level talent. As for trades of Cutch and Cole, if and/or when they happen, I sure hope they get MLB, or near MLB ready, talent in return. Younger players are too big of lottery tix no matter how much talent they have.

      • The thing is that by the time Cole and Cutch are gone there might not be that many holes in the big league club. By then the team might have Diaz catching Bell at first, many options at second, Newman at SS, Kang at 3rd, and the outfield does not need mention. The pitching, could be where the holes are, but the depth might produce one #1 and four #3’s. So restocking the lower level might not be a bad idea.

        • Barring injuries to Marte, Polanco, and Meadows, how do the Pirates keep ‘Cutch beyond the 2017 trading deadline?

          In Aug/Sep of 2016, Andrew McCutchen had 208 AB, hit .285, with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 34W/36K, and an OPS of around .850.

    • There’s always a fan who falls for ST stats. Remember when Matt Hague hit like nine homers, do you remember his MLB career? Hope, like all fans that Osuna does get a chance and hits like this in real game, not just against regulars working on stuff and fill in minor leaguers.

    • The overrated Texan that walked more than he K’d in his MLB debut last year? Because that’s just completely normal thing that happens all the time.

      • Actually Bell is heavily quoted in the article raving about Osuna’s ability. You cannot deny the power is there. If he proves out the Pirates are going to have many options and choices at first and in the outfield.

        • I didn’t deny anything about Osuna. Just pointing out the oddness of Bruce thinking Bell is overrated despite the fact that he looked quite good at the plate in his rookie year.

          • Then inexact nature of the “reply” button. I was making a general observation that Osuna’s power cannot be denied, not aiming at you. Bell really did look good under the bright lights. What is interesting to me is how he and other players think Osuna is a stud.
            If Osuna is the real deal and forces his way into the Pirates plans with his performance, think of this scenario:
            Osuna, an outstanding first baseman, takes over there and Bell goes back to the outfield(his natural position) when Cutch is moved.
            Of course we have Meadows in line but assets=options.

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