Signed this past February, Jose Adolis Garcia was a highly touted player out of Cuba. After an incredibly solid stretch in Springfield for the AA Cardinals, he has only gotten better through his promotion to Memphis.
In late February, the Cardinals signed Jose Adolis Garcia, giving him a hefty $2.5 million dollar signing bonus. After an invitation to Big League Spring training, the (at the time) 23 year old prospect reported directly to AA, a tall task for a player unfamiliar with the American baseball scene.
With solid speed, a magnificent arm, and overall strong baseball instincts, fans and front office members expected big things from Garcia. With that being said, though, it would have been unreasonable to demand a perfectly smooth start, given the professional and cultural adjustment taking place. Especially with his start in AA, known to be the real “proving grounds” of the Minor Leagues, the Cardinals were asking a lot.
Although it was a tall task, Garcia had one thing working in his favor. Adonis, Garcia’s older brother, is seasoned in the Major Leagues, having played nearly three full seasons in the bigs. Given the rigor of his adjustment into the Cardinals system, such a familial resource is truly priceless. Though there is no way to truly confirm this effect, I contend that the older Garcia has much knowledge and wisdom to bestow upon his younger brother. If I am in fact correct, this advice has worked wonders so far.
Moving closer to the present day, it seems like the Cardinals investment is paying off. Garcia played 66 games in AA for the Springfield Cardinals and fared extremely well. After 236 at-bats, he finished with a slash line of .284/.342/.432. Looking further, Garcia complemented his solid average with solid extra-base power, mashing 17 doubles and 6 home runs.
For a player of his speed, his strikeout percentage of 24% is a tad high for comfort. By no means, though, is it truly alarming. His walk percentage of 9% was a little more encouraging, but would still fare well from some improvement.
All in all, Garcia thrived in AA, taking to professional baseball in a smooth and consistent manner. If this is where he finished the 2017 season, the Cardinals would probably have been extremely happy. Luckily, though, things got even better.
After those 66 games in AA, the organization decided Garcia deserved a promotion. Just like that, he moved that much closer to the MLB ranks in his first full year.
In Springfield so far, Garcia has continued improving. In fact, he has done so by quite a large margin. More specifically, he has upped his average by 43 percentage points, moving from .284 all the way to .327. Also an impressive improvement, Garcia has already hit two triples since his promotion, after hitting none at all in Springfield. Finally, he has been perfect on the basepaths, swiping 3 bags in 3 tries. His strikeout rate of 19% is slightly better, too.
Before advancing, I understand that the sample size of 104 at-bats is tiny when compared to his hefty 236 in AA. When factoring in the higher level of competition, though, I feel safe in calling his current stats meaningful improvements. For a player in his first year with the organization, his ability to adjust and improve is extremely impressive.
Moving forward, the Cardinals have much to be excited with when it comes to Garcia. As it stands currently, he has done no wrong in his development. What is yet to be seen, then, is how he will handle adversity, the inevitable slump or rough patch pretty much guaranteed to professional ball players. Given his bloodline, I contend that he will confront such an occurrence with maturity. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals themselves handle a slump or tough situation. Sometimes, if a player is a part of a big league bloodline, the leash is a little bit looser, for the potential to break through and succeed is (supposedly) embedded within.
With Harrison Bader now a part of the big league club, Garcia could be cementing himself as the most promising outfield prospect in the system. For me, the battle between Garcia, Oscar Mercado, and Tyler O’Neill will be incredibly intriguing. Hopefully, the battle brings out the best in all the players. At the end of the day, however, it is truly unlucky that Garcia plays his current position. The organization is clearly stacked with outfielders, making it nearly impossible to find a consistent spot to break out.
If he keeps playing like this, though, he will be truly tough to deny.