TAMPA — At 20 years old and with only 11 games (six starts) above Double-A, Deivi Garcia is a long shot to join the Yankees’ starting rotation when the season opens despite the possibility there might be two openings because of Paxton’s back surgery and the soreness in Luis Severino’s right forearm.

Garcia, a 5-foot-9, 163-pound right-hander who worked at Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A last year, when he struck out 165 batters and gave up 96 hits in 111¹/₃ innings, threw live batting practice Thursday at Steinbrenner Field and was impressive.

“There are young arms that kind of emerge and guys that you can kind of dream on and get excited about,’’ manager Aaron Boone said Thursday. “Deivi is certainly one of those guys. I feel like he is in a good place right now.’’

With Jordan Montgomery — who broke Luke Voit’s bat during batting practice — the favorite to take Paxton’s spot and the possibility of Severino not being ready by the start of the season, the Yankees possibly will need a second replacement in the rotation. And while Yankees brass is high on Garcia, he might not be ahead of Jonathan Loaisiga or Mike King.

As for Severino, the news he is experiencing soreness in the right forearm and will be shut down for an undetermined period landed somewhere between concerning and alarming.

Severino was injured in spring training a year ago and made three September starts and two in the postseason. So far the Yankees haven’t received a return on the $40 million investment they made in the right-hander last spring.


Technically it’s called “batting practice’’ but it’s more designed for the pitchers to build arm strength. And so far during the sessions, the pitchers have overpowered the hitters who have hardly gotten many balls out of the infield.


J.A. Happ is the likely starter for Saturday’s first exhibition game against the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field.