Gerson Garabito is another guy who was eligible for the Rule 5 draft after finishing his 5th year in the Royals organization. The Royals didn’t protect him but Garabito was not selected.
Garabito pitches out of a hybrid windup. He has a high arm angle and uses that to create good downhill action on the ball. Like many pitchers who throw from this angle, it leads to potential mistakes up in the zone which are very hittable. The good news for Gerson is that opponent’s hit just .196 last year and struck out 74 times in 80.0 innings at Lexington. This was Garabito’s second go around with the Legends and he improved dramatically in almost all areas. His WHIP dropped to under a runner per inning from 1.40 in 2016 to 0.95 in 2017.
Righties tend to have a little better luck against him but not much. They hit .203 against him last year while lefties mustered just a .174 average. There were a few reasons for this. The first is that Garabito does a decent job with his fastball location. He has that downhill plane on it as well so it just ducks through the strike zone most of the time. Garabito would rather pitch away than in and forces hitters to drive the ball the other way. The second is that his changeup is really good and is hard to recognize. This keeps lefties off balance and reaching which creates poor contact. The third is that he can throw his big, 12-6 knee buckling curve to both sides of the plate and understands how to throw it for a strike or spike it into a swing and miss pitch. Most days the curve is his best pitch but there are days where his changeup can be better. Garabito can touch 95 when the weather is hot but usually works 91-93.
Garabito was a $50,000 international signee in 2013 and will start next season as a 22 year old. Garabito will probably celebrate his 23rd birthday as a member of the Blue Rocks rotation while the team is in Winston-Salem, NC.
A knock on Garabito is that he needs to work on holding runners as he likes to pick his leg up high. He also needs to work on his look patterns with runners on base. That being said there are no major mechanical issues and he is pretty solid with his lower half and quiet with his hands. Gerson was recognized by MLB Pipeline as the Royals 29th best prospect before the recent roster additions where they look at him as a possible backend starter. Royals Farm Report has him at number 26. If Garabito has a really good season and continues his development, expect him to be rostered before the Rule 5 next December.
Photo Credits: Mary Lay