Continuing our 'Getting to Know the Future' series with another infielder, we're ready keep the discussion going with another infielder. This time, it's new acquisition, Leury Garcia.
Garcia, 22, was recently sent over from the Texas Rangers in the Alex Rios trade. So let's take a closer look at Rick Hahn's newest toy …
Leury has the most experience playing the infield (2B, 3B, SS), but can also play the outfield. And he does so extremely well. Though he had trouble avoiding the errors in his first years as a professional (2008-2011), he's really turned it around throughout the past couple seasons.
The Texas organization grew very comfortable with Garcia as a defender, which earned him a promotion to the big leagues for the first 2.5 months of the 2013 season. There, he played 87.1 innings at 2B, 19 at 3B, and 21 at SS. In all of that time, he committed just one error in 62 chances. While that was great to see, he just wasn't anywhere near good enough with the bat.
For the Rangers, he went up to the plate 57 times and collected only ten hits (.192 BA) and three walks while fanning 16 times.
So while Garcia has a great glove, runs very well, and has a cannon, the bugaboo for him is clearly the offense. But you obviously have to look to his numbers in the minors to really figure out what kind of hitter he is. That MLB sample is just way too small.
After working through some teenage kinks, we'll call 'em, in '08 and '09, Garcia hit .273 in 2010 and .256 in 2011 … right about where most thought he'd wind up. His OPS, in the .650's over those two seasons, was also under whelming but seeing a guy that had as many skills as he does in the field to go along with his 98 stolen bases over those two seasons, you could really see him becoming the type of player the Rangers were hoping to one day get out of Garcia.
And then things really started to come together in 2012, when he played the whole season with AA Frisco. All of his numbers jumped drastically: a .292 BA, .734 OPS, all while only striking out 79 times in 416 at bats. Pair that with his defense, which had then fully turned the corner and his speed (31 SB's), and the Rangers had another great insurance option behind the likes of Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, and Jurickson Profar.
But Garcia has definitely regressed, at least a little bit in 2012. His average is down to .264 and his OBP has gone from .337 to .314, but the SLG% has gone up from .398 to .409.
So if a scout thought that his 2012 numbers were a good indication of what's to come from Leury Garcia, then I don't see a reason why that opinion should've changed now. And what I like most about what everyone's saying about the kid is that it's clear what he needs to improve.
Time and time again already, I've been hearing people both inside and outside of the organization say that he just needs to shorten his swing. If the problem is really that small and obvious, I'm confident that a change can be made successfully to make him the prospect the Rangers have always thought he could be.
And if that's the case – or even if he could just be a great defender and base-stealer that hits in the .260's or .270's, I think he's a name we 'oughta know pretty well.
What we all know is that the White Sox are most thin in their minor league organization when it comes to infielders. And when it comes to the left side of the infield in 2014, little is certain. At least one of the two positions, if not both, will be up for the taking in spring training. If Alexei Ramirez is traded at some point before the season, two guys we've discussed on GSB! recently, Conor Gillaspie and Marcus Semien (AAA) are probably the leading candidates to fill the voids.
But Leury Garcia's name will probably be catapult right up there, considering the 2013 White Sox' lack of defense, base running, and team energy.
Obviously, there will be some more moves made before now and then, but as we stand currently, they're really the only three names, while you could also throw Brent Morel in that discussion that should garner any attention.
But I do think we'll see Garcia with the 2014 White Sox no matter what. At the least, he'll be the first guy up in case of an injury to an infielder, but he could also be the utility man like Eduardo Escobar was in 2012.
Garcia was assigned to AAA Charlotte, where he'll likely he shuffled around in the infield. Hopefully he can get off to a hot start like recent acquisitions have within our minor league system. We'll continue to monitor his progress along with Semien's and others'.