After striking out 15 batters in his last outing, what could Deivi Garcia do for an encore? How about making history?
The fourth-ranked Yankees prospect combined with No. 22 Domingo Acevedo and right-hander Daniel Alvarez on a no-hitter in Double-A Trenton's 7-0 victory over Reading at ARM & HAMMER Park on Monday night.
Video: Thunder's Garcia K's ninth batter of game
After hitting Phillies No. 3 prospect Adam Haseley to start the game, Garcia (4-2) retired the next 12 batters before issuing a two-out walk to Darick Hall in the fourth inning. A throwing error by the righty allowed Luke Williams to reach to lead off the fifth. After a walk to Henri Lartigue, Garcia induced Raul Rivas to fly out to left and struck out Haseley to complete his night after five innings.
"For a lack of a better word, he's been dominant," Thunder manager Pat Osborn said. "He has a really good four-pitch mix and all four right now are probably above the Major League average. He's a heck of a competitor and has the composure of a guy that's been pitching for a number of years. He's the full package in terms of what you want in a young starting pitcher."
Echoing the words of Trenton's pitching coach Tim Norton, who last week described how Garcia approaches each game feeling that he is better than everyone he will face, Osborn explained what makes the righty's attitude so unique.
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"I guess the best way to put it is if he throws a bad pitch with one of his pitches, he will go right back to that pitch the next pitch without any hesitation," he said. "A lot of young pitchers, if they don't have a certain pitch working or if they make a bad pitch, they will shy away from going back to it. He stares it right in the face and says, 'I'm going to make this pitch better.'"
Quite simply, Osborne said, Garcia "oozes confidence."
"He challenges hitters and he's not scared of contact," the first-year Thunder skipper added. "You watch him out there and his demeanor wouldn't dictate whether he's throwing a no-hitter or he's given up 10 runs. He's the same no matter what."
Garcia threw 92 pitches -- 56 for strikes -- and fell one inning shy of his longest outing of the year. Osborn explained that comes with the territory of being a strikeout pitcher and trying to change that could bring some unwanted stress.
"That's who he is and that's who he is going to be," he said. "It's hard to manage that. This kid's career is a lot more important than his Double-A stats. His pitch count is going to run up there each time he goes out there because he's missing bats."
2019 Minor League milestones
The manager isn't only impressed with what Garcia has done on the mound. Since English isn't his native language, the Thunder use a translator "to make sure nothing is lost in translation" to communicate with him. The hurler's working hard on becoming familiar with the language, though.
"This kid is eager to learn and he loves taking the English classes we provide," Osborn said. "He's a bright kid that is anxious to learn. He's just a rare young man that you sometimes find around this game."
In his previous outing on June 18. Garcia tied the Minors' season high with 15 whiffs while allowing just one hit over six scoreless innings against Richmond. He started that game with eight straight K's. The performance earned him Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors and he was recently named to the Eastern Division team for the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Game.
Garcia sports a 2.68 ERA with 76 strikeouts over 49 innings since being called up from Class A Advanced Tampa on April 30. In 13 games at both levels, he has allowed 20 earned runs while striking out 109 over 64 2/3 innings.
On Monday, the Fightins' big three of Haseley, Philly's top prospect Alec Bohm and ninth-ranked Mickey Moniak combined to go 0-6 with five strikeouts against the Dominican Republic native.
Acevedo struck out two and walked one over two frames after relieving Garcia.
"He threw strikes, put pressure on the hitters and has good stuff," Osborn said. "He was in and around the zone with all three pitches, and anytime he's doing that, he's going to be difficult [to hit]."
Alvarez completed the feat, striking out one and issuing a walk in the final two innings. His manager admits closing out a no-no isn't without a lot of stress.
Video: Crawford secures Trenton's no-hitter
"That's gotta be tough," he said. "I never pitched and definitely never pitched a no-hitter but having that weight on your shoulders right there at the end, the stress level definitely skyrockets."
Alvarez isn't foreign to high pressure situations. As Osborn pointed out, he pitched in big games in the Venezuelan Winter League.
"There's not much that fazes him," he said. "He handled it with ease."
2019 MiLB include
It wasn't Garcia's first brush with history -- he threw seven perfect innings in Tampa's no-no last Aug. 6. It marked the first regular-season Thunder no-hitter since April 26, 2016 when Ronald Herrera and Jonathan Holder combined for the feat against New Hampshire. Justus Sheffield and Taylor Widener collaborated on a no-hitter on Sept. 8, 2017 against Binghamton in the Eastern League semifinals.
Chris Gittens led Trenton's offensive attack, smashing a two-run homer in the first and driving in Hoy Jun Park with a single to center in the fifth.
Haseley, making his first rehab start since suffering a groin injury earlier this month, finished 0-for-3.