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Nine things about White Sox waiver claim Onelki Garcia

Arduous defection process and two surgeries bookended lefty's Dodgers career

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

No. 1: I could tell you about Onelki Garcia, whom the White Sox claimed from the Dodgers on Thursday, but why would you want to read what I write about it when you can listen to Vin Scully talk about it?

No. 2: Garcia faced one batter in his major-league debut on Sept. 11, 2013. That batter was then-Diamondback Adam Eaton. Garcia walked him on four pitches, then was surprised by Don Mattingly's hook.

Onelki Garcia debut GIF

Scully's call: "So Garcia makes his debut, gives up a walk, and now here comes Mattingly. That'll be kind of a quick hook. [laughs] He's learned enough to say, 'Wow!' That's exactly what he said when he saw Mattingly coming out of the dugout."

No. 3: Garcia is from Guantanamo, Cuba (not Guanranamo Bay), but the Dodgers drafted him in the third round in 2012. He wasn't able to secure a sizable open-market signing bonus like other Cuban players because he wasn't able to establish residency in another country before he did so in the United States.

It wasn't for a lack of trying.

After some time in Nicaragua, according to Onelki Garcia, trouble arose when he and Adonis Garcia attempted to cross back into Mexico from Guatemala, in the Mexican border town of Tapachula.

"We were given passports to get across the border in Guatemala," he said, "but we had to run for many, many miles across the border in Guatemala. We were left on our own to face authorities. Another headache."

It got worse. Onelki Garcia said he and Adonis Garcia were taken to a motel in Tapachula and held at gunpoint by two men he believed were sent by Hernandez.

"Every day was the story, `We're going to pick you up tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.' We spent almost a month in that hotel," he said.

So not only did he lose money by having to go through the draft, but he was ruled ineligible for the 2011 draft, and had to wait a year for that to happen.

No. 4: Garcia climbed the ladder, rising up to No. 9 in Baseball America's list of Dodgers prospects last year, with the best curveball in the system. BA's scouting report:

Scouting Report: Garcia’s best role is in the bullpen, where he spent the majority of 2013. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph with armside sink and touches 97, with deception that makes the pitch get on hitters quickly. He throws an above-average curveball with tight spin and good depth. He has a slider and a rudimentary changeup, but he’s mostly a two-pitch guy out of the bullpen. Garcia’s control is below-average, so he has to learn to command his fastball down in the zone and early in the count in order to get to his curveball to put hitters away.

The Future: Garcia had arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left elbow and remove a bone spur in November. He could be ready to pitch by Opening Day, but the procedure clouds his status. He should be a solid reliever and the No. 2 lefty in the bullpen behind Paco Rodriguez.

No. 5: That future didn't materialize in 2014 because Garcia battled "one setback after another." Besides the elbow procedure, his rehab list also included knee surgery to repair torn cartilage in January. He didn't make it back on a mound until the last day of August. He appeared in one game at A-ball Rancho Cucamonga, and then pitched in a couple of postseason games for Double-A Chattanooga.

He had an outside chance to pitch for the Dodgers in September since injuries decimated their depth on that side of the bullpen, but it didn't work out.

No. 6: From reading True Blue LA and Dodgers Digest, it seems like the Dodgers figured they might be able to sneak Garcia through waivers in order to open up a 40-man roster spot on protection day.

They shouldn't count on getting past the White Sox, though. Maybe it's because they see plenty of them at Camelback Ranch, but the Sox have an affinity for Doders relievers. Over the past two years, they've taken (the just-DFA'd) Ronald Belisario, Javy Guerra and Ramon Troncoso off Los Angeles' hands.

No. 7: The Sox might've been Garcia's new organization by default given this history, but it should be a pretty soft landing spot for him. After all, the Sox have acquired two of their top left-handed options this week.

Zach Duke, who signed Tuesday, will be the primary lefty, and it's a mess behind him. Garcia has to prove he's healthy before he can be penciled into plans. Eric Surkamp probably has the inside track after surviving September. He's in better position than Scott Snodgress, who followed a shaky 2014 at Birmingham and Charlotte with an awful Arizona Fall League season. And that's the entire inventory of left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster.

No. 8: Is health the only thing in Garcia's way? True Blue LA has doubts:

While Garcia receives praise from other outlets for his power arsenal, I remain a bit skeptical to just how useable his power arsenal is without better than fringe average command. The primary attribute working against Garcia is his athleticism, as Garcia shows inconsistencies in both arm slot and arm speed. Garcia drags his arm behind his body slightly in his delivery and shows more of the ball than you typically see with a left handed reliever. When healthy, I expect Garcia to challenge for a role in the Dodgers bullpen, but I get more the feeling from him that he will always tantalize with stuff that doesn’t play up to its radar gun speeds.

The first thing I notice about Garcia's delivery is how square he is to the plate when he finishes.

No. 9: Garcia is another example of the value of the White Sox Offseason Plan Project. Before pdfitz12 mentioned Garcia in his plan, I only knew of Onelki because his first name was similar to a 12-fingered White Sox farmhand from years past. Good stuff, gang.