ORANGE, Calif. – After skyrocketing up draft boards this spring, junior pitcher Nick Garcia was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 79th overall pick in the third round of the 2020 MLB draft. He is just the second player in the illustrious history of Chapman University baseball to be drafted in the first three rounds.
The All-American right-hander from San Carlos, Calif. became the second-highest draft pick in Chapman’s history and the highest in the program’s Division III era (since 1995). Garcia joins Don August as the only two Panthers to be selected in the top-3 rounds of the MLB amateur draft. August was the 17th overall pick in 1984 when Chapman competed in Division II.
The 2020 draft marks the third year in a row that Chapman has had a player selected — the longest active streak for any Division III program — following former teammates Christian Cosby (14th round/pick 422) in 2018 and 2019 ABCA Pitcher of the Year Tyler Peck (28th round/pick 845). Garcia is the 66th player in Chapman’s history to be drafted in the MLB Draft and the 14th to be selected since transitioning to Division III in 1995.
Garcia wasn’t on most scouts’ radars until he started lighting up radar guns in his sophomore season. The 6-4 righty came to Chapman as an infielder but converted to the mound after his freshman season. With a fastball in the mid-to-upper-90s, Garcia became the top closer in Division III and a consensus First Team All-American reliever.
He helped the Panthers to the 2019 NCAA Division III national championship in 2019, going 9-0 with 12 saves and a microscopic 0.64 ERA. In 56 innings over 30 relief appearances, he struck out 82 batters and allowed just four earned runs on 31 hits.
In 2020, Garcia converted from a flame-throwing closer to a frontline starter. He went 4-1 in five starts with a 2.00 ERA before the season was canceled due to COVID-19. With his three-pitch mix and a fastball continually in the mid-90s, he continued to soar up draft boards and prospect rankings.
Garcia is the highest draft pick from an NCAA Division III program since 2012 when Bruce Maxwell was taken as the 62nd pick out of Birmingham Southern. In 2007, current Detroit Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmerman was also taken in the second round with the 67th overall pick.
He is the fourth-highest draft pick in SCIAC history. Whittier’s Tony Woods was taken as the 17th overall pick in 1982 and Cal Lutheran’s Jason Hirsch was the 59th pick in 2003 as the highest draft picks in the SCIAC’s Division III era. La Verne’s Willie Norwood was a third-round pick in 1972 and was taken 56th overall when the conference competed in the NCAA College Division.
The 2020 MLB draft was shortened to just five rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ended Thursday with rounds two through five being selected.
Chapman won its third national title in 2019 and was ranked in the top-10 for all of the 2020 season. The Panthers were 12-3 when the season abruptly ended in March.