The Washington Nationals know how fruitful the international signing period can be. Will Luis Garcia follow in the footsteps of Juan Soto and Victor Robles?
The Washington Nationals have been experts in utilizing the international market when signing young players. We’ve seen Victor Robles and, most recently, Juan Soto rise up from there. Could Luis Garcia be the next to follow in their footsteps?
Well, the early returns look promising for Garcia down in the lower levels of the minor leagues. So far in 2018, he’s hitting .294 and has a reasonable OPS of .731, but his speed is catching people’s eyes.
In his first 80 games of 2018, he has for triples and managed eight stolen bases. The steals may seem low, as he’s been caught five times, but as he learns it’ll become a weapon for him.
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It’s also worth noting, that in April he slumped poorly out of the gate, hitting just .198 in the month. Since then the young infielder has a .335 batting average and a much better looking .841 OPS.
The one thing the Nats would like to see more from him is more walks to make use of that speed.
He’s only drawn 21 free passes this year in those 80 appearances, but as someone who profiles as a potential leadoff hitter, it needs to improve a little.
We’ve seen with Trea Turner that it’s possible to improve on this, as he continues to have an All-Star season. He’s already exceeded his career high in walks, despite playing in 11 fewer games.
Speaking of Turner, when you watch Garcia’s swing in the video, it has a little bit of Turner in it. The leg-kick, very flat swing path and finish all remind you of the current Nats shortstop.
Garcia won’t quite be able to match Turner’s speed, not many players can, but he’s not all that far behind on that scale. Also, his hit tool could be just as good, and he has a projectable frame that could bring a similar power output to Turner. I think the front office would take that sort of offensive production.
The young Dominican has also got position versatility on his side. Most of his starts this year have come at third base, with fellow infield prospect Yasel Antuna scooping up most of the starts at shortstop for the Hagerstown Suns.
But Garcia has also seen playing time at shortstop and second base this season and appears to be moving back to shortstop with the Potomac Nationals. It remains to be seen where his long-term home will be with the organization, but versatility is never a bad thing.
Obviously, Luis Garcia still has a long way to go to replicate the success of Soto and Robles. But his current trajectory says he may be able to live up to the hype in the future.