The Revs signed three more pitchers Tuesday, bringing their number of players under contract to 25 just days before players report to spring training Sunday at York’s Sovereign Bank Stadium. While left-handed starter Chris Cody (pictured above) and lefty reliever Scott Rice should be pivotal players for the Revs in 2011, the third pitcher who signed with the Revs Tuesday might be the most intriguing.
Shaun Garceau (pictured at right) could turn out to be the Revs best signing of the offseason, providing a chance for a player to turn around his life and his career. Of course it could be the second chance some will argue Garceau, 23, doesn’t deserve after being arrested in an oxycodone trafficking bust in June in Palm Beach County Florida.
He has been charged with felony counts of conspiracy to traffic the prescription drug oxycodone and trafficking. He pleaded not guilty in January. His trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 3. If convicted his charges carry minimum mandatory sentences of three years in prison and a a $50,000 fine.
For a time, Garceau thought he could keep his addiction a secret.
He went from a can’t-miss-prospect with the Cardinals to, in his words, “a lost cause.” It all happened in just a few months, an offseason spent addicted to the prescription drug oxycodone.
Coming off his best professional season in 2008 he showed up in the Cardinals big league spring training camp the following February at age 21 showing the signs of addiction. He was about 40 pounds under his typical playing weight.
“I looked like crap,” Garceau said in a telephone conversation Tuesday night. “I still cared, but I made a fool out of myself.”
A teammate would later discover him taking drugs and Garceau turned himself into the Cardinals, admitting he needed treatment.
The men who watched Garceau’s recovery call his turnaround a “miracle.”
He changed his life.
He cleaned up.
He quit using oxycodone. Although this was not the cause of his problem, he also stopped drinking.
He met with a licensed clinical social worker every day for about a month, agreeing to random drug tests. He went back when he slipped up. He kept talking to a social worker, he kept working to kick his addiction.
He has been clean and sober since Sept. 17, 2009 — a date noted by not only Garceau but also the social worker who worked with him.
“He’s a very lucky man to beat it, there’s no doubt about it,” said Larry Mabry, a licensed clinical social worker in Palm Beach County who helped Garceau overcome his addiction.
But even though he was clean, his past came back to drag him down in June 2010. Investigators with the Palm Beach County Multi-Agency Diversion Task Force discovered a 48-year-old woman was writing fake prescriptions for oxycodone, and had several accomplices who filled the prescriptions and sold the pain pills. Garceau — who grew up in Palm Beach County — was named as an accomplice.
“It was a complete surprise,” said Garceau, who pitched for Double-A Springfield in Missouri last season and thought he had put his drug past behind him. “Whatever happened I have to pay the price for what I did.”
Garceau cooperated with the authorities. He plans to speak with children about the dangers of drug use.
“We’re going to be totally open,” said Drew Owen, an MLBPA-certified agent with Platinum Sports and Entertainment Management. “He’s passed random drug tests, he doesn’t drink.”
After talking with Garceau’s lawyer, Owen said he believes there is a chance Garceau will likely not serve time and his case may not go to trial.
“We crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is on his background,” Revolution director of baseball operations Michael Kirk said. “We definitely did are due diligence. We feel if we’re not the one to give him a second chance, than who is?
“I know that I’m going to take him on as someone I personally want to see succeed. I’ll watch him very closely to see he’s on the right path.”
Garceau is not the first player linked to drugs to sign with the Revs. The most notable player with a past was Pete Rose Jr., who played for the Revs in 2009. Rose pleaded guilty to distributing performance-enhancing drugs to teammates and spent a month in jail in 2006 in Boone County, Ky. Shortly afterward he was in uniform for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlantic League. And the Chicago White Sox announced in December they hired Rose to manage their advanced-rookie team, Bristol (Va.), this season.
The league’s 2010 championship series MVP, Ramon Castro, was released from the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and handed a 105-game ban for his involvement with amphetamines in 2005 — receiving 15 games for a positive test and 90 games for distribution according to MLB.com. He has since stayed clear of trouble, and returned to affiliated baseball after sitting out the remainder of his suspension and joining Double-A Connecticut in the Giants system in 2009. Former Revs Damian Moss, Matt Padgett and Steve Smyth also received suspensions after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs earlier in their careers.
Garceau has not won a game since 2008, but he had been a big-time prospect in the Cardinals system. Baseball America ranked him the 68th best high school prospect in 2005, but he fell to the 20th round in the June amateur draft in large part because he had some bargaining power. He had a scholarship to play at Alabama. Despite not being selected in the lower rounds, Garceau signed with the Cardinals after they met his demands.
His fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range, and scouts labeled his curveball a work in progress during his first seasons in pro ball.
He has already overcome a serious injury, missing all of the 2006 season. He suffered a combination of a muscle tear/burst artery in his right quadriceps. The burst artery caused leakage which resulted in an infection and other complications. He underwent two surgeries in June.
He posted his first — and so far only — winning record in 2008. He went 8-4 with a 3.42 ERA for High-A Palm Beach that season.
Garceau said his addiction to oxycodone occurred after the 2008 season. He said it had nothing to do with an injury. He had no problem overcoming his surgeries or avoiding being hooked on painkillers in rehab. It was simply a random situation, a friend offered him the oxycodone. And he kept taking the drug, and taking the drug.
He went a combined 0-8 the last two seasons but does not blame his addiction or recovery.
“The wins and losses, I don’t even look at those because that’s a function of the team you’re on in affiliated baseball,” Kirk said. “You can pitch a great game and lose. What I look at is strikeouts and walks, and you listen to what scouts and scouting directors have to say. They have all told me the same thing: That this kid is the real deal. He has an electric arm that projects to the big-league level.
“Unlike a lot of players in this league, we’re getting this kid on the way up. Our ultimate goal is to get this kid to the big leagues.”
He earned the opening day start for Double-A Springfield last spring, and he felt like he was pitching better and better. Looking back, the only start where he knew he was bothered by his past came in his last start of the season when he knew he would have to return home and turn himself in to police.
One area where Garceau could improve is control. He has a career WHIP of 1.53. In his winning season of 2008, he walked 55 and struck out 56.
“That could be something as simple as a young guy being excited,” Kirk said.
Other signings: Perhaps overshadowed by Garceau’s signing were the two other quality pitchers York signed Tuesday. The Revs continued to work on filling a weak spot on their roster. The Revs had signed just three left-handed pitchers among their first 22 signings, including two that — Kevin Angelle and Jeremy Lewis — expected to challenge for spots in the starting rotation. That left just Ronnie Morales to pitch out of the bullpen. York agreed to terms with lefty reliever Dustin Pease in the offseason, but Pease signed with the Padres and will begin the season in Class A Lake Elsinore. Scott Rice, 29, should help fill the void.
“We were looking to fill hoes in the bullpen,” Kirk said. “His numbers and career has been fairly above average.”
Rice went 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in Double-A Tulsa last year. He struck out 33 and walked 18. But then he went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in Triple-A Colorado Springs, striking out 15 and walking 15.
He last appeared in the Atlantic League with Newark in 2009. He also played for Long Island in 2008.
Lefty starter Chris Cody, 27, will make his independent baseball debut with York. By Cody’s standards, his numbers in the last two seasons — although not bad — did not match what he had done earlier in his career. Cody has a 37-31 career mark with a 3.03 career ERA and a ridiculous 1.16 career WHIP. Few batters earned free passes from Cody during his career, but the former Tigers and Brewers prospect issued a career-high 40 walks split between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville in 2009. And he issued another 33 walks last season in Double-A.
He had a spectacular year in Double-A in 2009, but he could not match his 5-1 mark with a 2.30 ERA at Triple-A. In Nashville he went 8-8 with a 4.90 ERA, walking 30 in 93 2/3 innings. Not bad, just not the numbers he had been putting up earlier in the season. He issued another 33 walks in 109 2/3 innings last season for Huntsville, posting a 7-8 mark with a 4.19 ERA.
“He’s had great numbers throughout his career,” Kirk said. “To me he looks like a (John) Halama-type of pitcher, except he has more velocity and he’s a lot younger.”