During the 2014 season we got to know one of the top Phillies left-handed pitching prospects, Elniery Garcia. The 20- year old had his best season in 2015 making all 21 starts pitching 120 innings for the Lakewood BlueClaws.
One of the things he kept talking about was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. In 2014 Fall Instructs he was watching video of Kershaw pitching. When we went to Hickory N.C. this summer to watch him pitch curing the night before his start he talked again about Kershaw.
Last night in an elimination game Kershaw came up big in the must win NLDS game. He pitched seven strong innings giving up only a home run and three hits to pick up the win and send the game to a deciding Game Five back in Los Angeles tomorrow night.
All I could think about watching the game last night was the game Garcia pitched against the Hickory Crawdads that Sunday afternoon the end of June. He cranked up a four-hit, seven inning shutout to pick up the win. Hickory was the first half champions of the Sally League and went on to the win the overall league championship.
Garcia pitched like Kershaw that day. His fastball registered 93 mph on the scoreboard and he had his big curve ball working just like Kershaw. Unlike Kershaw who relied on a cutter last night, Garcia used his two seam sinker that day to induce eight ground ball outs for the Lakewood 9-0 win.
On Friday night, two other of our good friends did well also. Ranfi Casimiro picked up a win and Alexis Rivero got the save as we watched Lakewood down Hickory for a 6-3 win.
At one point this August in his next to last start Garcia had a 3.07 ERA, nearly the same ERA that Kershaw had at the time. He was pitching like Kershaw.
Elniery had a strong second half this season. In ten, second half starts he went 4-3 with a 2.64 ERA for the BlueClaws.
Garcia was shutdown and did not pitch in what would have been his last two starts of the season. Overall, he pitched 120 innings and did not miss any of his 21 scheduled starts in Lakewood’s six-man 2015 rotation.
In 2014 he pitched only 30.2 innings. Currently, MLB.com has him ranked 29th of the Top 30 Phillies prospects. Read HERE.
Last month Garcia was one of the highest drafted pitchers in the Dominican Winter League. He was the fifth round pick of the Toros del Este, the second pitcher overall drafted in the six-team DWL.
It is expected that Garcia will open the 2016 season with the Clearwater Threshers in Florida State League. We will be watching from there to see if he can continue to pitch like Kershaw.