White Sox Claim Onelki Garcia Off Waivers


The Chicago White Sox claimed left-handed relief pitcher, Onelki Garcia, off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday. The Cuban southpaw was drafted by the Dodgers in the third round of the 2012 amateur draft. He was the 9th ranked prospect in the Dodgers’ organization entering the 2014 season by Baseball America.

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The Dodgers likely hoped Onelki would clear waivers. However, White Sox general manager, Rick Hahn, is no stranger to raiding the Los Angeles waiver wire. The Sox claimed Javy Guerra from the Dodgers last spring, outrighting him to Triple-A Charlotte just two days later. The pick-up paid dividends, as Guerra was recalled by the Sox in May, 2014, and proved to be one of the few bright spots in the White Sox bullpen last season.

Onelki Garcia has only pitched significant innings in one professional season due to elbow and knee injuries that forced him to miss most of the 2014 season. In 2013, Garcia spent most of his time in Double-A Chattanooga. He impressed the organization with a 2.75 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched. He also posted a 3.72 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 9.2 innings with Triple-A Albuquerque that same year. The Chicago White Sox tweeted about Garcia’s minor league accolades following the acquisition, highlighting Garcia’s impressive batting average against mark in 2013.

If he is going to have success with the White Sox, Onelki will need to improve his control. According to Mike Newman from Fangraphs, Garcia features a low 90s fastball and plus curveball. Despite his ability to make batters miss, he also has a tendency to miss a lot himself, as in, miss the strike zone. Garcia walked 32 batters in Chattanooga, a rate of 5.5 per nine innings pitched (BB/9). Luckily, the White Sox are no stranger to dealing with young pitchers with control issues. Jake Petricka posted a 5.2 BB/9 in 2012 across two minor league levels, but lowered that number to 4.1 as a major league reliever on the Southside in 2014.

Chicago’s Cuban connection is another point that cannot be overlooked. A player’s comfort level is very important to their success. The White Sox have done an excellent job making Cuban born players feel at home within their organization. There is no certainty that fellow countrymen Dayan Viciedo or Alexei Ramirez will be part of the White Sox organization on Opening Day, 2015, but the team’s budding star, Jose Abreu, definitely will be. Also, fellow Cuban prospect, Adrian Nieto, who spent the 2014 season backing up starting catcher, Tyler Flowers, may find himself catching Garcia in Triple-A Charlotte next season, depending on how the offseason plays out for the White Sox.

Onelki Garcia may or may not figure into the White Sox plans in 2015, but these types of low risk, high reward transactions are exactly what fans should get excited about. In an offseason dominated by big name free agents like Jon Lester and Victor Martinez, it may be the under-the-radar acquisitions that pay off in the long run for Rick Hahn and the Chicago White Sox.

* All advanced stats provided by Baseball-Reference.com