(Photos courtesy of Zach Foley)
By Kieran Wilson
Hector Garcia might not be considered a typical MLB prospect, but make no mistake, he is ready to compete at the next level and, despite the odds, he will get a chance to do so. On Tuesday, he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 18th round of the MLB Draft.
The 5’10 right-hander attended Hope International University, an NAIA school in Fullerton, California, which has a student population of just over 1,000. The school has had just three other former players drafted, and has only had ten players make it to the minor leagues. No one from HIU has played in the MLB yet, but Garcia hopes to be the first Royal to do just that.
His 2023 season was his best at Hope; he started 11 games, going 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA. He also held opponents to a .168 batting average and struck out 93 hitters. His efforts won him the Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year as well as a spot on the NAIA All-American Honorable Mention team.
He continued his stellar year as a reliever for Y-D this summer. Coming out of the bullpen, he sports a 1.84 ERA, which is one of the best on the team. He has been relied upon in the late innings and has come through nearly every time.
In 14.2 innings, he has surrendered only three runs on six hits and three walks, while picking up one win and two saves. He has also racked up 23 strikeouts, which ranks second on the team and third in the league.
Garcia throws four pitches, but has only used two in his time on the Cape: a two-seam fastball and a splitter. The splitter is his favorite pitch, and he credits it for “getting me over [to the Cape League].”
When asked about the people who have impacted his baseball career up to this point, Garcia was quick to heap praise upon his family and coaches.
“Obviously my family got me into this, I feel like my dad really pushed me for this sport and I fell in love with it…[My family] has been huge, without them, I probably wouldn’t be here. That’s kind of a big reason why I’m doing this, to help them out. You know, they gave me opportunities my whole life and I kind of just want to pay it back.”
Manager Scott Pickler spoke glowingly of Garcia: “He’s a great teammate, one of the best on the team. He never thinks about himself, he’s just a great teammate. He comes out here and is a great ambassador for the team…he’s such a team guy. We’re gonna miss that as much as how he dominated on the mound, and I’m so happy for him.”
This is exactly who Hector Garcia is, ever humble and always thankful. He is loved by the entire team, coaching staff, and fans. He will be sorely missed, and he will certainly have the whole Y-D community cheering him on throughout his journey.