Dodgers Find Pair of Power Lefties

In 2012, four left-handed pitchers touched 93-plus on my radar gun. In Onelki Garcia and Chris Reed, Dodgers prospects accounted for half the list. This is nothing new. Two minor league baseball seasons living in the Atlanta area has yielded many hard-throwing Dodgers prospects. What’s new is every top prospect I’ve seen from the Dodgers has been right-handed before this.

Big arms, along with deep pockets have allowed the Dodgers to acquire three All-Stars in the past six months. Trading Nathan Eovaldi, Rubby De La Rosa, Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom and Allen Webster would decimate most minor league systems. For the Dodgers, it’s simply a sign to reload.

Seeing both Reed and Garcia pitch on the same September day against a prospect laden Jacksonville Generals team left me focusing on their similarities. Chris Reed started the game for Chattanooga. After a rocky first-inning, the left-hander settled in. With a 91-93 mph fastball, the pitch featured late drop anchoring a ground ball heavy arsenal. With fringe average command, he’ll need to become more efficient to handle a starter’s workload.

Reed mixed in an 83-85 mph slider as a primary off-speed pitch. With sharp bite, it profiles is an out pitch at the major-league level. Similar to the fastball, he needs to command it better. Reed also flashed a changeup, but it was a below average offering.

With a long and lanky, six-foot-four frame, Reed’s stuff plays up due to deception. Not only does Reed utilize a drop and drive delivery, but throwing across his body allows him to hide the ball. From behind home plate, it appears as if Reed is throwing harder than he actually is.

At a minimum, Reed profiles as an above average reliever at the Major League level. With a refined changeup and increased workload, there’s room for more.

Listed at six-foot-three, the big-bodied Garcia boasts a power arsenal. The Cuban pitcher’s deception comes from staying tall in his delivery with a high release point. Like Reed, Garcia features a 91-93 mph fastball, only with more consistent sinking action. In this appearance, he was wild in the zone which kept Jackson hitters off-balance.

How dominant was Garcia? Here’s the recap from milb.com.

Jackson Top of the 4th
  • Pitching Change: Onelki Garcia replaces Chris Reed.
  • Stefen Romero strikes out swinging.
  • Mike Zunino strikes out swinging.
  • Rich Poythress strikes out swinging.
Jackson Top of the 5th
  • Jesus Sucre grounds out, third baseman Luis Nunez to first baseman J. T. Wise.
  • Johermyn Chavez strikes out on a foul tip.
  • Chih-Hsien Chiang strikes out swinging.
Jackson Top of the 6th
  • Denny Almonte walks.
  • Brad Miller strikes out swinging.
  • With Francisco Martinez batting, Denny Almonte caught stealing 2nd base, catcher Gorman Erickson to second baseman Jake Lemmerman.
  • Francisco Martinez strikes out swinging.

In three innings, Garcia’s strikeout victims included three of the four best position prospects in the Seattle Mariners system.

Garcia’s primary off-speed pitch was an 83-85 mph “slurve” with 1 to 7 break. The pitch is a swing-and-miss offering at present — Flashing plus when down in the zone.

His changeup also flashes potential and supports a starter profile should Garcia’s durability return after a long layoff.

In a weak 2012 draft, Garcia dropping to the third round is a steal for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His signing for under slot money forces me to question why 29 other organizations passed on the talented left-hander as I’ve seen lesser pitchers awarded seven figure signing bonuses.

For 1.6 million, Reed was considered an overdraft at 16th overall. And while the innings and results aren’t there yet, the stuff is.

Instead of a cozy office, I imagine Logan White’s in a laboratory somewhere cloning the next crop of flame throwing Dodgers pitching prospects. In Reed and Garcia, the next wave of talent to surface at the Major League level will be from the left side.

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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

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Colby Richards
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Colby Richards

They both pitch behind very stiff front legs I feel like that’s dropping efficiency from their mechanics.

Samuel Deduno
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Samuel Deduno

All pitchers either keep their legs stiff or straighten their leg as the shoulders rotate. This does not affect release point. Roy Halladay is one of the most durable pitchers despite his 2012 injury, and he keeps his leg stiff. Verlander is probably the most durable pitcher and he straightens his leg which theoretically could increase the speed of the shoulder rotation.

I’ve heard scouts say pitchers land on stiff legs which supposedly could affect control or extension. I don’t really understand this sentiment. There is an angle between the post leg thigh and hamstring which might be the “stiff leg” when low enough. When the post leg hits the ground, the energy is sent back up the leg where the higher this angle, the more energy is used to “push” the leg backwards horizontally. I haven’t seen any studies, but this might potentially affect shoulder rotation and trunk flexion. I personally don’t believe it affects efficiency, which is probably defined as mechanics that produce the most velocity with the least perceived amount of effort. Johan Santana lands on a stiff front leg, but he still produced 97 mph heat in his prime from only a 6′ frame.