Monday, September 22, 2014

The Career of Frank Garces

In 2009, Frank Garces started his professional baseball career with the Texas Rangers, by signing with the team as a 19-year old amateur free agent. After a poor performance, tossing 16.1 innings (9BB/12K) with the Rangers' Dominican Summer League (DSL) team, Texas decided to release him. Garces spent the next season pitching in an independent league in the Dominican Republic. In 2011, he signed a minor league contract with the Padres organization, once again finding himself in the DSL. The southpaw pitched considerably better his second time around, striking out 115 in 71.2 innings while only walking 20 and posting a 2.51 ERA. 

His next season saw him promoted to Fort Wayne (skipping two minor league levels!) and a continuation of his excellence. Throwing 50 more innings than the season before, Garces appeared to have broken out to a tune of a 2.81 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 25 starts. Unfortunately, his 2013 season was a disaster, with his ERA doubling in the hitter friendly California league. His K/BB ratio did not change much, but he gave up considerably more home runs (0.9 higher HR/9 in 2013 than 2012). The Padres management decided to transition Garces to a bullpen role, and promote him to San Antonio.

Garces' conversion was a major success, as he strung together eight saves and a 1.93 ERA in 51 appearances for Double-A. His performance in the bullpen led the front office to give Garces a shot in the big league bullpen after Jesse Hahn was sent to the minors. In his first 12 major league relief appearences, the San Cristobal native has struck out seven in seven and two thirds innings, while only allowing two runs. 

Frank Garces' strong season, coupled with his August and September showing in the major leagues, could lead the once minor league free agent to a job in the Padres' bullpen next season. With six players currently on the 60-day disabled list, and Rule V eligible prospects needing protection, tough roster decisions loom ahead.

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