Jaime Garcia is 23 years old, was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft, and quickly became the Cardinals top pitching prospect. He missed most of last year recovering from Tommy John Surgery, but came back in time to pitch Memphis to the PCL (AAA) title, winning a pair of games. Had a brief cup of coffee with the Cardinals back in 2008, pitching in nine games out of the bullpen, and had one start. He faced the Mets in the marathon 20 inning game, throwing 7 shutout innings, allowing only one hit and two walks, while striking out five (that was his 2nd start of the year).
He features a hard, sinking fastball (90.5 mph) which often results in a ton of ground balls (60%+ GB% at every level in the minors, and 55% this year), a cutter (85 mph and he throws it 20% of the time), a change-up (83 mph) and also features a big, looping curve (74 mph). His cutter, fastball and change-up have all been plus pitches this year. He likes to use his cutter 0-2 and 1-2 (> 50% of the time), and will throw a fastball > 75% of the time if he falls behind in the count, even 1-0. Garcia has strikeout stuff (more than a strikeout an inning last year in limited work, 7.3 K/9 this year), and has been getting swing and missed 10% of the time this year. He could benefit from continuing to decrease his walks ( > 4 W/9 in his minor league career, 3.5 W/9 this year).
He's 9-4 in 19 starts (110 innings), with a 2.21 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. He has been getting extremely lucky with a lack of home runs (5 in 110 innings), and his FIP is 3.29 (still outstanding for a rookie). He's only had one start where he allowed more than three runs, and 16 of his 19 starts he's allowed two runs or less. Impressive. His last start versus the Phillies he threw 7 innings, 4 hits and 2 walks, only 1 earned run (HR), and striking out 6.
Opened up everyone's eyes this spring training and won the #5 starter job, now he is the leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.