Right-hander Christian Garcia made a nice move all the way to the Nationals in 2012 after dominating opponents while pitching at Triple-A Syracuse.
Garcia began the season at Double-A Harrisburg. In 18 games, he went 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA with seven saves in 20 innings, firing 28 strikeouts to six walks. Then, in Syracuse, Garcia went 1-1 with a 0.56 ERA in 27 games over 32 1/3 innings. He struck out 38 and walked 11.
With the Nationals, Garcia appeared in 13 games, pitching 12 2/3 innings and striking out 15, with two walks and three runs scored for a 2.13 ERA.
The 6-foot-5, 215 lb., Miami, Fla., product even made two appearances in the National League Division Series, pitching 2 2/3 innings to a 3.38 ERA.
There are high hopes for Garcia as spring training nears, especially with an ever-changing bullpen.
Baseball America also recognizes Garcia as a top prospect in the system, ranking him No. 6 in their top 10 list of Nationals prospects.
Baseball America national writer Aaron Fitt said Garcia has a great chance to stay with the team out of spring training because of his three big league pitches.
"He has got electric stuff," Fitt said. "He has had really good stuff since his high school days. Staying healthy has been an issue with him. I think moving him to the bullpen was the right move. They can kind of take it easy with him. I don't think you will see him pitch in back-to-back days very often. He has found his role. Once every couple of days, from the bullpen, he will come in there.
"He has a swing-and-miss fastball. He has the best change-up in the system right now. He has a really good curveball too. He has three plus pitches when he is on. This guy can be pretty special. I think he can really help this team."
Interesting thoughts on Garcia, especially since manager Davey Johnson has said a few times the Nationals are considering converting him back to a starter, his role when he started his professional career prior to two Tommy John surgeries.
But Fitt believes they should keep Garcia in the bullpen.
"I just don't see that as his future," Fitt said. "That has been tried before. Development people I talk to think this will be his role going forward. Obviously, Davey has some influence. I am sure they have talked about that because he has starter stuff with the three legit pitch mix. But I think they would have to worry about him getting hurt again in that role. He couldn't stay healthy in that role the first six or seven years of his career."