Detroit Tigers take a chance on sling-shot righty Rony Garcia in Rule 5 draft

Anthony Fenech
Detroit Free Press

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — For the second time in three years, the Detroit Tigers held the No. 1 overall pick in the Rule 5 draft – a collection of mostly young, unproven players that aren’t on 40-man rosters.

And as has been the case with much of this rebuild, they went with pitching.

The Tigers selected Rony Garcia, a right-handed pitcher from the Yankees. Garcia will come to spring training on the Tigers’ 26-man roster.

Garcia, 21, has posted a 3.50 ERA and 1.162 WHIP in four minor-league seasons with the Yankees. In 2019, he combined to post a 4.01 ERA and 1.228 WHIP with 129 strikeouts in 130⅓ innings between Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.

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One rival talent evaluator’s assessment of Garcia: “Whole greater than some of parts type, but solid package of stuff and pitchability.”

Detroit Tigers' Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Al Avila steps out onto the field before the start of the Opening Day game  at Comerica Park in Detroit on Friday, April 8, 2016.

Garcia is a tall righty whose delivery is compared to a sling-shot, according to scouting reports provided by other evaluators. He throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90 mph range with raw off-speed pitches.

One National League executive who compiled extensive research for his team’s Rule 5 draft preparation, ranking hundreds of players, had Garcia ranked as one of his top eight players in the draft.

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Of his 75 career games, 71 have been starts, giving the Tigers some flexibility. This season, Garcia profiles as a long reliever, but depending on how many innings he throws, could be used as a starting pitcher in the future.

For the pick, the Tigers paid the Yankees $100,000. Garcia must stay on the team’s 26-man roster for the duration of the regular season or be offered back to New York for $50,000.

Last year, the Tigers picked righty Reed Garrett from the Rangers with the No. 5 overall pick in the Rule 5 draft. In 13 games last season, he compiled an 8.22 ERA and a 2.413 WHIP, was designated for assignment in May and returned to Texas.

Two years ago, with the top pick the Tigers picked up outfielder Victor Reyes from Arizona. After struggling in the majors in 2018, Reyes seemed to find his footing with Detroit last season, hitting .304 in 69 games.

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The Tigers made two selections in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft, taking righty Ruben Garcia from the Orioles and infielder Brian Schales from the Twins.

Garcia, 23, was Baltimore’s 14th-round pick in 2016. He’s posted a 3.82 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in four minor league seasons as a reliever, none above Class A.

Schales, 23, was Miami’s fourth round pick in 2014. He’s a .237 hitter with limited power in six seasons with the Marlins and Twins.

Selections in the minor-league phase cost $24,000.

Contact Anthony Fenech at afenech@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.