For Pete's Sake

Six things to know about new Royals pitcher Onelki Garcia

Kansas City Royals pitcher Onelki Garcia threw during a spring-training game against the Seattle Mariners in Surprise, Ariz.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Onelki Garcia threw during a spring-training game against the Seattle Mariners in Surprise, Ariz.

The Royals put left-hander Danny Duffy on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, and after a bit of shuffling with the 40-man roster, the team brought up pitcher Onelki Garcia to take Duffy’s spot on the big-league club.

In 22 games between Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Class AAA Omaha, the left-handed Garcia had a 5.70 ERA.

Garcia is a 28-year-old native of Cuba, and he took an unbelievably long road to the majors.

1. In 2012, Garcia told The Los Angeles Daily News that he and 20 others left Cuba on a boat on Aug. 18, 2010, and 21 hours later they ended up in Cancun, Mexico. This was a little more than two weeks after Garcia’s 21st birthday.

Garcia then went to Nicaragua in an effort to gain residency and hopefully get a visa to come to the U.S. Instead, Garcia told the Times he and another player went to Guatemala and ran (yes, ran) across the border to Mexico. They were held at gunpoint, the story says, before being released and later taking a bus trip to Veracruz.

That bus was pulled over and the players were imprisoned for a short while before making it to the U.S. border in Texas. They got into the U.S. and flew to Miami.

You can read about that amazing tale from the Daily News here.

2. Once in the U.S., Garcia hoped to be a free agent, Baseball America reported, but Major League Baseball said he would go in the draft. However, MLB ruled him ineligible for the 2011 draft because of questions about his residency. To fill the time, Garcia pitched in an adult recreational league in California, according to Baseball America. Yep, a rec league.

3. The Dodgers picked Garcia in the third round of the 2012 draft and he made his major-league debut the following season after 36 appearances in the minor leagues. In 2013, Garcia appeared in three games, pitching 1 1/3 innings, and he allowed two runs on a hit, four walks and he struck out one.

4. In his major-league debut, Garcia walked Adam Eaton (then of the Arizona Diamondbacks) on four pitches and was pulled by Don Mattingly (who was LA’s manager at the time).

5. Garcia had surgery on his left elbow and his knee in 2014 and made one appearance, pitching two-thirds of an inning. After the season, he was picked off waivers by the White Sox. He appeared in 38 games in the minor leagues for Chicago, giving up 30 earned runs in 56 innings over 38 games in Class AA and Class AAA.

6. The White Sox released Garcia in March 2016 and he pitched for the Diablo Rojos last season in Mexico. He had a 3.82 ERA (14 earned runs in 33 innings). The Royals signed Garcia as a minor league free agent on Oct. 19, 2016.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff