Go back to 2004, and you may have been convinced that a young man named Jaime García had a murky future in baseball.
The Baltimore Orioles selected the Mexico-born pitching prospect in the 30th round of that year’s MLB Draft. But like they did with all drafted players at the time, the Orioles also required García pass a test upon entering the big leagues. And as is now well documented in García’s career story, the former Texas high school standout didn’t meet the team’s standards.
A former Orioles scout eventually revealed that García’s test had been entirely misinterpreted from English to Spanish, as The New York Times reported. And 15 years later, that’s not a surprise, because it turns out that the young man from Mexico ended up knowing all he needed to know about baseball — enough to last 10 whole seasons in the majors.
As reported by multiple outlets and confirmed by Sports Spectrum, García is officially retiring from MLB at the age of 32. But his departure from the diamond simply marks the culmination of a lengthy and accomplished journey on the mound.
Drafted again in the 22nd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005, the left-hander hit Double-A by his second full season with the club, Triple-A by his third season and the majors a year later. By July 2008, he had already made his MLB debut, fanning two in two innings of relief work for the Cardinals. Although the start of his following season was delayed due to Tommy John surgery, he began flashing his big-league potential once he returned, retiring the first 13 batters he faced in the Triple-A Redbirds’ opening playoff game of 2009.
By 2010, García was a full-time MLB player in St. Louis, named the team’s fifth starting pitcher for that year’s rotation. After turning in a 13-8 debut with a 2.70 earned run average, it was apparent that his stuff was in the majors to stay, and NL Rookie of the Year votes and a Baseball America All-Rookie Team honor proved it. Even better things came the following year, when García started 9-3 and finished 13-7 with a 3.56 ERA and career-best 156 strikeouts, then pitched a 1.80 ERA during the Cardinals’ 11th World Series title, becoming just the second Mexico-born hurler to start a championship game in 30 years.
Injuries limited García from 2012-2014, a stretch in which he still managed an average ERA under 4.00, before his full-time return to the rotation in 2015. A 10-6 season with a career-best 2.43 ERA solidified his status among the Cards’ top pitchers after that, with his late-year starts helping carry the team to the NLDS. And a 10-13 campaign in 2016 preceded his move to the Atlanta Braves as part of a four-player trade that December.
García spent the final two seasons of his MLB career between the Braves, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs, compiling an additional 41 starts. He finishes his 10-year tenure at the major league level with a career record of 70-62, an ERA of 3.85 and 2011’s World Series title — a longtime model of southpaw consistency who endured a number of injuries, not to mention draft-day oddities, to warrant starting looks from a fifth of MLB teams, including in the playoffs.
Off the diamond, García has credited his rise to MLB stardom to his Christian faith. After growing up in a home where baseball was all but expected to be his purpose and source of identity, he’s publicly proclaimed trust in Jesus as his true source of hope and worth.