After grinding for four innings, Deivi Garcia was on the brink of a special night. By striking out the final six batters he faced, he turned a solid outing into one to remember.
The Yankees No. 13 prospect notched a career-high 12 strikeouts and gave up two hits over six scoreless innings, matching the longest outing of his career, as Class A Charleston beat Augusta, 4-1, on Wednesday at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark.
Video: Charleston's Garcia fans career-high 12th batter
Garcia (2-3) took the mound on the heels of his only scoreless start of the season -- he fanned seven and limited Hickory to two hits in 4 1/3 frames on July 17. Despite working with baserunners in each of his first four innings Wednesday, he continued the trend, led by his heralded heater that topped 95 mph on the gun.
"He was more aggressive with his pitches, especially that first pitch with the fastball. He was really going after hitters," RiverDogs pitching coach Justin Pope said. "It was really lively. He was getting a lot of swing-and-miss whenever he wanted to, and he picked up steam as the game went on. Those last two to three frames, he looked really strong, great tempo."
After setting down his first two batters, the 19-year-old gave up an infield single to top Giants prospect Heliot Ramos. Garcia began the second by plunking ninth-ranked Jacob Gonzalez, and after Manuel Geraldo bounced into a forceout, he picked off the GreenJackets shortstop and retired Logan Baldwin on a foul pop.
Gameday box score
In the third, Garcia got two quick outs before San Francisco's No. 25 prospect Malique Ziegler reached on a fielding error by shortstop Wilkerman Garcia. Ziegler moved up on a balk, becoming the only GreenJacket to get into scoring position against the native of the Dominican Republic, who fanned Ismael Munguia for his sixth strikeout of the night. Pope said he watched Garcia struggle with consistency since joining the RiverDogs more than six weeks ago, but he was impressed with how he kept things under control whether throwing from the windup or the stretch this time out.
"He wasn't throwing stressful pitches," Pope said. "He was in command of whatever he wanted to do. He was just going after guys. Sometimes guys throwing out of the stretch try too hard to make the perfect pitch, but he kept that same mentality."
Garcia surrendered his second hit when Ramos led off the fourth with a single to center field, but the 5-foot-10, 163-pound right-hander set down his final nine batters, fanning eight. He struck out the side in the fifth and sixth to surpass his previous career best of 10 whiffs, which he last hit in his RiverDogs debut on June 11 against Asheville.
After Ramos got two early hits off him, Garcia capped his outing by fanning the GreenJackets center fielder swinging.
"Ramos is a young hitter, but he's good and they battled," Pope said. "They got into a 3-2 count, and it went eight pitches, but it was nice to see Deivi not give in at all and keep attacking. He could have gone with the 3-2 breaking ball there, but he stayed with the heater. At that point, he was basically cruising. He got his second wind, and his confidence was so high that he knew he could throw the fastball and no one was going to touch it."
After Anderson Severino gave up a run on two hits over two innings, Kyle Zurak struck out one in a perfect ninth for his 10th save.