BOSTON — Rookie Deivi Garcia has passed every test thrown his way so far in a big-league career that is very much in its nascent stage.
Another test will come Sunday when the 21-year-old Garcia, 2-1 with a 3.28 ERA in four starts, takes the mound against the Red Sox.
It won’t be the typical Fenway Park experience for a Yankee — no fans and the Red Sox being one of the worst teams in the majors — but it’s still Fenway Park. And it’s still the team Yankees fans want their players to produce against more than any other.
"I thought about it when I started [my] professional career, but I had no idea that it would happen so fast," Garcia said through his interpreter on Saturday, referring to pitching at Fenway Park, one of the cathedrals of the sport. "Now I have the opportunity to do so tomorrow and I hope to take advantage of it."
Garcia, rated among the top Yankees prospects for the last several years, made his debut Aug. 30 against the Mets and threw six dominant innings in which he allowed an unearned run and four hits with no walks and six strikeouts.
His mound presence, approach and overall stuff have drawn praise from not only Garcia’s idol and Dominican Republic countryman, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, but from the current ace of the Yankees’ staff, Gerrit Cole.
"I think he's fit in really well," Cole said this past week. "He's got a professional approach, especially for a young guy both on and off the field, so it's always encouraging when you see somebody of that age take his profession so seriously."
Talent, of course, is what ultimately will play at the big-league level, and Cole said Garcia has the goods. The pair could be seen talking extensively in the outfield during batting practice Friday night.
"Something that stood out during that conversation we had, we were talking about our sequences and ways to attack a hitter," Garcia said. "He was very specific on the amount of changeups and breaking pitches that he used. Specific and exact, and that’s impressive. It’s eye-opening because the level of precision kind of opens your eyes to how he views the game."
Said Cole: "I think he's got a little bit of a sneaky delivery. I think that's definitely what plays to his advantage, deception . . . He [has] about as complete of a repertoire as you can have as a young kid for sure. He's got a lot of room to grow, but he's been really good for us to start off, and we're really proud of him."
Aaron Boone, who looks to have Cole and Masahiro Tanaka lined up to start the first two playoff games, recently said he would not hesitate to put Garcia in his postseason rotation because of his command and utter unflappability.
"Of course it goes through my mind," Garcia said of possibly getting a postseason assignment. "It’s something I thought about a lot from Day 1 when I got the call to join the team in the big leagues. Playoffs are big. That’s why I keep working very hard, to hopefully help out when the time comes."