The Royals have signed 27-year old left-handed pitcher Onelki Garcia to a minor league deal, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Garcia spent last season pitching for Diablos Rojos del Mexico in the Mexican League. Before that he was once a top ten Dodgers prospect before being claimed off waivers by the White Sox after the 2014 season. In 2015 with the White Sox, he had a 4.82 ERA between AA and AAA, but struck out 72 in 56 innings of relief, although he walked 29.
Garcia was born in Cuba, playing for Guantanamo until age 19 when he defected to the United States. Rather than be declared a free agent, Garcia was ruled subject to the 2011 draft. But baseball wanted further review of his case, and delayed his eligibility a full year, requiring him to play in semipro leagues in California, which may have hurt his development. He was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Dodgers, signing under slot.
By 2013 he was in AA ball, posting a 2.75 ERA in 52 1⁄3 innings with 53 strikeouts, earning a cup of coffee in the big leagues. He pitched 1 1⁄3 innings with the Dodgers, walking four and giving up two runs. He had elbow surgery following the season to remove a bone spur, but suffered setbacks in recovery, including a knee injury. He missed most of the 2014 season and the Dodgers tried to sneak him past waivers at the end of the season, only to have the White Sox claim him.
Garcia was said to throw in the low 90s before his surgery, with a good curveball. He lacks athleticism and has a tendency to drag his arm, but shows enough velocity that he should be an outside candidate at a bullpen spot. He will not cost the Royals a 40-man roster spot and could be an invite to spring training next year.