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Matthew Scott Garza (born November 26, 1983 in Selmamarker, Californiamarker) is a Mexican-American right-handed starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays.pick of the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft. He attended Washington Union High School and Fresno Statemarker. Garza pitched for the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays team that clinched its first World Series berth in franchise history after years of failure. Garza was named the 2008 ALCS MVP for his efforts in the series.

Career

2006

Garza pitching for Minnesota Twins in 2006.
Entering , Garza was ranked as the Minnesota Twins seventh-best prospect by Baseball America. He gained attention for rising through the ranks of the Twins' minor league system, starting the season at Single-A Fort Myers and ending at the major league level, pitching with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats and the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings in between. Garza was a combined 14-4 at the three minor league levels in 2006, with a 1.99 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 135 ⅔ innings. He earned All-Star berths in the Single-A Florida State League and Double-A Eastern League. Backed by those numbers, Garza earned the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year Award for 2006, the second consecutive year in which a Twin won the award (in 2005, Garza's teammate Francisco Liriano was the winner). On August 8, Minnesota purchased Garza's contract, promoting him to the majors to replace the injured Liriano. Garza is one of a small number of players to advance through the minors and reach the major league level in a single season. On August 11, his major league debut, Garza allowed seven earned runs in 2 ⅔ innings to the Toronto Blue Jays. Garza earned his first win on August 23 against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing just one unearned run in six innings.

2007

Entering , Garza was rated as the top prospect in the Twins organization and the 21st-best prospect in Major League Baseball by Baseball America. Garza did not make the Twins rotation out of spring training, being assigned to Rochester instead. He was recalled to the Minnesota Twins on June 28 after being passed by other Twins pitching prospects such as Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker due to disagreements with the club over his pitch selection. He was selected to the 2007 All-Star Futures Game in San Franciscomarker, but did not get to participate due to his call up to the major league club. On July 6, in a game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S.marker Cellular Fieldmarker, Garza became the first Twins pitcher to bat in an American League game since Allan Anderson in . Garza was put in the eight-spot when catcher Mike Redmond left the game after his head was cut by Jim Thome's bat on a backswing. Joe Mauer, the designated hitter for the game, replaced Redmond as the catcher, forcing Garza into the lineup. On July 29, Garza recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in six innings against the Cleveland Indians.



2008

On November 28, 2007, the Twins traded Garza along with Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Morlan to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, and Brendan Harris. Garza had a successful season with the Rays, going 11-9 while posting a 3.70 ERA. He also earned MVP honors for the ALCS in which he helped the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox by posting a 1.38 ERA in two starts, and earning the decisive victory in game 7 of the ALCS.

2009

As of the end of July 2009, opposing batters were hitting .222 against him, which was the second-lowest batting average in the league; he was just behind Edwin Jackson (.216), and was followed by Jarrod Washburn (.224) and Scott Feldman (.228; .217 as a starter).

In 2009 he had the lowest range factor of all starting major league pitchers (0.93).

Scouting

Garza throws a 2-seam fastball that varies from 90-94 mph, as well as a 4-seam fastball that varies from 93-96 mph that can, on occasion, reach 98. His arsenal also includes a big, breaking curveball that he throws for 72-77 mph, a tight slider in the mid-high 80s, and a changeup he uses to fool hitters.

Rays' pitching coach Jim Hickey has commented that Garza has "the best stuff on the staff".

Personal life

Matt got married to his high-school sweetheart, Serina, on November 29, 2008. Their first child, Matthew (b. 2002), was born a few days after they graduated from high school. They also have a daughter, Sierra (b. 2005).

As someone who has had to deal with teen pregnancy, Garza was invited to sit on a panel for The Candie's Foundation in New York Citymarker about combating teen pregnancy with Hayden Panettiere and Bristol Palin on May 6, 2009.

References

  1. Sullivan, T.R., "Feldman: The rock of the rotation," MLB.com, 7/29/09, accessed 8/15/09
  2. "MLB Player Fielding Stats - As p - 2009," ESPN, accessed October 6, 2009
  3. Mechanical Analysis: Matt Garza | SaberScouting
  4. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/john_donovan/10/25/game3.garza/index.html?eref=sircrc
  5. http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=105393&catid=187


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