Written by: John Stewart (@jonance)
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
The year was 1987 and I was an awkward 11-year-old careening towards puberty. I was also gradually attempting to break free of the sanctity that was pop music in the mid 80’s. Rap music in that era wasn’t exactly dangerous, but it provided some respite from the vanilla sounds of Peter Cetera that dominated the airwaves. Back in the day, MTV used to play something we called “Music Videos” instead of documenting over-served cro-mags who fist pump just because the “CABS ARE HERE!!!”. One day, I happened to catch a debut video by a band called “Heavy D and the Boyz” for their new song “Mr. Big Stuff”.
The first thing I noticed is that Heavy D was indeed quite heavy and that the members of his band were indeed Boyz. I was also enamored with the fact that each of the “Boyz” was wearing the same Coca-Cola long sleeve polos that filled my closet at the time, which delivered an instant overdose of street cred in my mind. Finally, I noticed there wasn’t even any music yet; instead, they were acting. This wasn’t just a music video, this was a musical drama!
Heavy D and the Boyz were in a club and Heavy was having a heated exchange with the owner, who happened to also be his Uncle B. Heavy was begging for a chance to perform one song for the crowd, and despite his initial misgivings, cooler heads prevailed and Uncle B agreed to let them do their thing. You could probably find better acting in a Stormy Daniels feature film, but the dialogue piqued my interest enough to wait out the opening beat, a drum machine-laden sample of Jean Knight’s 1970 hit of the same name.
Heavy D went on to rap several braggadocious verses with approximately seventy-eight clever references to his weight and how he prefers being girthy and the ladies do too. Heavy D and the Boyz would go on to release eight more albums with even more double-entendres referencing his heft in a career that may have never happened if it weren’t for good ole’ Uncle B.
But I digress, this is a fantasy baseball piece about fantasy baseball players, and the band I really want to talk about is Deivi G and the Boyz.
This band is comprised of a quartet of high-octane, high-upside arms in the Yankees organization: Deivi Garcia, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Medina and Roansy Contreras. It’s time to join the fan club and visit the merch tent, as each of these guys have the potential to be “rough and tough and all that stuff” (You watched the video didn’t you?).
2018 MiLB Stats: 74.0 IP ~ 2.55 ERA ~ 0.95 WHIP ~ 2.4 BB/9 ~ 12.8 K/9
I’ll start with my personal favorite member of the band, Deivi Garcia. Heavy D he is not, but for the purpose of this piece he is our “Mr. Big Stuff”. Does it bother me that he’s 5’10” and 163 pounds? Not really, because Garcia is a very advanced arm for his age possessing impeccable command and a veterans poise on the mound.
Deivi G. sits around 94 mph with his fastball, and he also possesses a wicked 60-grade curveball that is a high-spin knee buckler. He has been young for his age at every level and has had no problem dominating hitters, striking out 105 batters in just 73 innings across three levels in 2018.
Garcia will likely start the 2019 season at Double-A, where I fully expect him to continue proving his stature is an unjustified reason for folks to doubt him. Garcia has a special arm and advanced pitchability that should afford him the chance to be a high octane arm in a big league rotation.
(Garcia video courtesy of YESNetwork)
2018 MiLB Stats: 56.0 IP ~ 2.89 ERA ~ 1.16 WHIP ~ 1.3 BB/9 ~ 10.8 K/9
2018 MLB Stats: 24.2 IP ~ 5.11 ERA ~ 1.54 WHIP ~ 4.4 BB/9 ~ 12.0 K/9
“Johnny Lasagna” technically managed to climb all the way from the Rookie League to the Big Leagues in 2018, jumping straight from Double-A to The Show in June. He promptly shut down the Rays, striking out 6 over five shutout innings in his debut. He had a few more abbreviated outings with mixed results before being sent down while simultaneously dealing with shoulder inflammation. He returned to New York in September in a bullpen role and saw his ERA balloon from 2.70 to 5.11 due to a couple of bad outings.
Despite the mixed results in 2018, he maintained a high K-rate throughout, and his MLB FIP hinted that the ERA was quite unlucky. Just like Deivi G., Loaisiga has a mid-90’s heater with some life that can top out at about 98. He compliments that with a high-spin, low 80’s curveball and an average change with nice fade.
Loaisiga is almost identical in stature to Deivi Garcia, standing 5’11” and 165 lbs. Obviously with his size, the shoulder inflammation and the fact he has never topped 80 innings in a season despite being 24 years old, there are concerns over his durability and ability to remain a starter. That said, he jumped from Double-A to the biggest stage and looked utterly dominant at times. Loaisiga strikes out batters at a great clip, has solid command of all his pitches and has a clean, repeatable delivery. If “Johnny Lasagna” can stay healthy this year, he may be the first arm called up if the Yankees have an opening in their rotation. Enjoy these clips of his 6 punch-outs in his MLB debut.
(Loaisiga video courtesy of YouTube user Eprj Ep)
2018 MiLB Stats: 36.0 IP ~ 6.25 ERA ~ 2.17 WHIP ~ 11.5 BB/9 ~ 11.8 K/9
While Heavy D had trouble controlling his profound eating habits, Luis Medina has trouble controlling just about every pitch he throws. That said, he probably possesses the most tantalizing arsenal of this quartet. He touches the upper 90’s with his fastball and combines that with a nearly unhittable curve and a changeup that flashes plus as well. But oh boy the walks: Medina issued 46 of them in just 36 IP which led to an unsightly 2.17 WHIP and 6.25 ERA in the Appy League (Rookie Ball).
Medina isn’t a lost cause, however. His mechanics are sound and the hope is that he will be able to harness his control and command as he develops. The upside is there for Medina to shoot up prospect lists and become the top arm in the Yankees’ system, he just needs to know where those pitches are going for it to happen. Medina clearly represents the riskiest prospect in this group.
(Medina video courtesy of Pinstriped Prospects)
2018 MiLB Stats: 63.1 IP ~ 2.42 ERA ~ 1.03 WHIP ~ 3.0 BB/9 ~ 8.5 K/9
While Deivi G. and the other 2 Boyz offer the most upside in the group, Roansy Contreras is probably the safest of the bunch. While he lacks the prototypical starter build just like the others (6’ 175 lbs), he has always shown the ability to control his pitches and he’s now starting to see better results on the field.
Contreras has significantly improved since he was a 2016 J2 sign out of the Dominican Republic. He has gained about 4 mph on his fastball and has a deceptive delivery that hitters don’t pick up until it comes out of his hand. Contreras possesses a mid-90’s heater along with a 10-5 curve that can miss bats. He also throws a changeup, but it lags behind his other two offerings.
Contreras is extremely poised on the mound for a 19-year-old; while being susceptible to home runs could eventually be problematic, he attacks the strike zone and mixes his pitches well while locating them with precision. Roansy Contreras is a guy to keep an eye on in 2019.
(Contreras video courtesy of Pinstriped Prospects)
Follow P365 contributor John Stewart on Twitter! @jonance
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365