Deivi Garcia's return to the Florida State League was perfect -- literally.
The Yankees' 12th-ranked prospect retired all 21 batters he faced, striking out 12 of them to tie his career high, but Class A Advanced Tampa fell to Clearwater, 1-0, despite tossing a combined no-hitter Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Garcia and Christian Morris' effort marked the first no-no for the Tarpons since Jose Ramirez and Chad Pinder combined on the feat on July 12, 2012.
"The most that I got impressed with him was the way he kept his composure during the game, knowing what was going on," Tampa pitching coach Jose Rosado said. "It didn't really surprise me pitch-wise, because this guy can throw strikes. He also can use his secondary pitches when he gets behind in the count for strikes. So he's got good stuff. We like him. The kid likes to compete. It was fun to watch."
Gameday box score
Garcia made his 2018 debut with Tampa on June 5 after spending the first six weeks of the season in extended spring training, then moved into Class A Charleston's rotation. The Yankees promoted the 19-year-old Monday and he made an immediate historical impact.
The right-hander fanned Phillies No. 6 prospect Mickey Moniak for his first strikeout of the game in the first inning. He got Luke Williams looking to end the frame before striking out the side in the second and freezing Kyle Martin to begin the third for six consecutive whiffs.
"He went out there and executed the gameplan from the first inning on," Rosado said. "The first time he went through the lineup, I was like, 'Well, the only chance they have against him is if he hangs a pitch or he makes a mistake. But if he stays calm and he continues to execute his pitches, it's going to be a tough night for the other team.'
"He started thinking more about one pitch at a time than really trying to see the whole picture. I'm happy to see him do what he did."
Garcia later fanned Williams on three pitches to end the fourth and got Jose Gomez swinging to end the sixth. No moment seemed too big for the young pitcher, even with pressure mounting after every pitch. Rosado credited the organization's philosophy of mentally preparing its hurlers to succeed in high-leverage situations.
2018 Minor League milestones
Back out for the seventh at 65 pitches, the native of the Dominican Republic didn't let up a bit. Arquimedes Gamboa struck out swinging. Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, worked the count full before whiffing on the payoff pitch. Garcia fell behind Williams, 3-1, but battled back to get him looking to end the frame.
"He didn't flinch when he got behind counts a few times," Rosado said. "He was able to let that go and just pitch -- maintain focus in the present, in the now, in that pitch."
The 2015 international signee leaned heavily on his fastball to overpower the Threshers. Rosado said he was quick to use it early in the count to get ahead, then elevated the pitch to pave the way to his dozen strikeouts.
"We call it, like, a sneaky fastball," Rosado said. "It gets to you quicker than what you think. He did it, man. He did a great job. It looked to me like he was in full control from the first pitch."
In eight starts with Class A Charleston, the 163-pounder went 2-4 with a 3.76 ERA and struck out 63 batters in 40 2/3 innings. He also fanned a dozen against Augusta on July 25. Rosado praised the work RiverDogs pitching coach Justin Pope has done with not only Garcia, but all the hurlers who have been promoted to Tampa this year.
"As an organization in the pitching department, I think we do a great job," Rosado said. "That's something I really like and I love what we do here. We love to help them, teach them how to do one pitch at a time. I think this is like a team effort."
Threshers starter McKenzie Mills matched zeros with Garcia all game, navigating around three hits, a walk and two hit batsmen over seven innings.
Tampa went to the bullpen for extra innings in the eighth. Morris' first offering ended the pursuit of the perfect game. A tapper back to the right-hander was relayed to shortstop Diego Castillo, who dropped the ball as the Tarpons trapped Williams, the automatic runner on second, in a rundown.
Williams scored two batters later when first baseman Steven Sensley fielded a grounder by Daniel Brito and was unable to make the throw home in time. Tampa went down in order in the bottom half, making the Tarpons the first team since Blue Jays No. 29 prospect Jordan Romano and Class A Lansing were on the wrong side of a six-inning no-hitter in 2016.
It marked the first time in nearly 26 years a team threw a no-hitter but lost in the Florida State League. Scott Backum of Winter Haven did so -- also against Clearwater -- on Aug. 23, 1992.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Threshers outlasted the Tarpons, 4-3, also in eight innings. Moniak smacked a triple and a double.