Once ranked in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects, Luis Garcia is finally living up to his billing.
After quickly emerging as a top prospect in the Nationals farm system, Luis Garcia made his MLB debut in 2020 to mixed results. In 139 plate appearances, he hit .276, with two homers, 16 RBIs, and an OPS of .668. From the jump, the then 20-year-old flashed an impressive hit tool, but he lacked power and was a defensive liability, posting -5 DRS at second and short. His wRC+ of 78 was way below the league average of 100.
Over the off-season, Garcia worked out and started to grow into his frame. After starting the season on the Nationals roster, Garcia was optioned to AAA so he could play every day. In 37 games at AAA, Garcia showcased some hidden pop, mashing 13 homers and posting a 154 wRC+ and an OPS of .970.
A few days before the trade deadline, the Nationals called him back up. He immediately took over as the team’s everyday second baseman. Unlike last year, Garcia struggled out of the gate with the Nationals and suffered through growing pains. He looked lost at the plate, going 2-12, with a homer, and a .583 OPS in his first five games back.
It wasn’t until the middle of August that Garcia finally started to find his footing. Starting on August 15, he recorded a hit in 10 out of 14 games to close the month. After being continually fooled by pitches out of the zone, Garcia has shown a drastic improvement in his plate discipline. In 11 games this month, he is hitting 261, with two homers, three RBIs, and an OPS of .857.
His wRC+ of 74 and OPS+ of 81 are below league average, but his power has finally been on display. Garcia already has nine extra-base hits this month, one less than all last month.
Something he still needs to work on is his defense. At times, Garcia will be able to make a brilliant play, with August 27 coming to mind. With the Nats up 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth against the Mets, Pete Alonso led off the inning with a walk. Three pitches later, Francisco Lindor hit a grounder to the right side of second. Garcia made a diving stop and bounced the ball to second to nab Alonso.
Javy Baez followed this up by hitting a grounder to Garcia who stepped on second and fired the ball to first to end the game.
While Garcia can make some jaw-dropping plays, he is still susceptible to mistakes seen by his seven errors. Most recently, Garcia added another impressive play to his highlight reel. On Thursday night, Garcia chased a pop up into the outfield and caught it basket style while on the run.
Still a work in progress, Garcia needs work on his consistency on both ends of the field. But recently, he has finally been able to quiet the doubters and give the fanbase a glimpse of what’s to come.