MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Phillies' Garcia nearly unhittable in AFL outing

Philadelphia's No. 18 prospect allows one hit in four frames

Phillies' Garcia nearly unhittable in AFL outing

MESA, Ariz. -- The hottest team at the start of the Arizona Fall League season continued to roll Monday night, as the Glendale Desert Dogs blanked the Mesa Solar Sox, 2-0.

Glendale (5-1) rode a strong start from Phillies left-hander Elniery Garcia to its fifth straight victory. Garcia, who took the Desert Dogs' only loss on Opening Day, spun four shutout innings while allowing just one hit and one walk. He struck out five and threw 37 of 54 pitches for strikes.

Box score

Garcia recorded three of his whiffs on his curveball, his most effective pitch against the Solar Sox. Though his fastball has reached 95 mph in the past, it mostly sat at 89-92 mph. He picked up one strikeout each with his heater and his changeup, while also mixing in a handful of sliders.

"I was working on my breaking ball to strike out guys," Garcia said via translator Argenis Angulo, an Indians right-hander. "It was working really, really good to get guys out."

Signed for $92,500 out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Garcia broke out last year by going 12-4 with a 2.68 ERA in high Class A. But the Phillies' No. 18 prospect didn't get much of a chance to build on that progress in 2017 because he drew an 80-game suspension at the start of the season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Garcia worked just 30 2/3 regular-season innings, recording a 1.47 ERA but also an uncharacteristic 13/19 K/BB ratio. He's in Arizona to make up some of the time he lost to the suspension, and he said he's also trying to refine his slider.

Mesa starter Alec Mills also pitched well, pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his sinker, but the Cubs No. 20 prospect took a hard-luck loss by allowing a fourth-inning run on a double-play groundout. The only other run came in the seventh, when Dodgers No. 5 prospect Yusniel Diaz homered on an 81-mph slider from Athletics righty Sam Bragg.

Solar Sox second baseman David Bote (Cubs) replaced an injured Kody Eaves (Tigers) in the fourth inning and doubled and singled in two at-bats to raise his batting average to an AFL-best .556. He also tops the league in on-base percentage (.600), slugging (1.111), OPS (1.711), homers (three), hits (10) and total bases (20).

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.