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December 11, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Astros select Jason Garcia in Rule 5 draft, trade him to Orioles

Capping off an eventful morning, the Houston Astros selected right-hander Jason Garcia from the Red Sox with the fourth pick of the Rule 5 draft, then trading him to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named or cash. The Red Sox selected Jandel Gustave from the Astros with the sixth pick, but reports are that he will be flipped to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations.

Garcia, currently ranked as the 36th best propsect in the system, has seen his stock rise in recent months after reports came out in the fall that he was hitting 100 and sitting in the high 90s with his fastball. The 22-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013, and came back to throw 56 1/3 innings in 2014 between Lowell and Greenville, with an ERA of 3.67. He appeared in his first game on June 13, and after shaking off some rust, he ended the season on a tear for Greenville, going 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his last 29 innings for the Drive, striking out 32. 

The Red Sox selected Garcia in the 17th round of the 2010 draft out of Land O' Lakes High in Florida. He pitched just under 30 innings in the GCL that season, and spent 2011 in Lowell. After an uneventful 2012 season in Greenville, albeit at age 19, he returned there in 2013, making nine appearances before the injury ended his year.

While Garcia's fastball looks to be at least a plus offering, his control, as well as his slider and changeup, need considerable work. His 3.8 walks per nine innings this year was a career low. Having never pitched above Low A, it will be interesting to see how Garcia fares against more advanced competition when he reports to major league spring training. The Orioles will hope that one of his secondary pitches progresses, and he can slot into their bullpen. In order to send him to the minor leagues, the Orioles would first need to offer him back to the Red Sox and then have him clear waivers.

Gustave is another hard-throwing right-hander who pitched in Low A last year, but he did not have the same success as Garcia. His ERA sat at 5.01 over 79 innings in the Midwest League, though he did strike out over a better per inning. With the Royals already boasting one of the best bullpens in the game, it is unlikely he will stick. 

Photo Credit: Jason Garcia by Kelly O'Connor