I don’t write a lot of straight forward stuff, but I thought you’d like to know a little of what I’ve seen this season. Here’s some poorly pooled thoughts on Leury Garcia. These are just a compilation of my ramshackle notes, but I hope you enjoy something about them.
A Prospect You Should Know: Leury Garcia
21 year old Leury Garcia will probably make it to the big leagues. I’m no different than every other person who blabs about scouting and player development with regards to the number of words I’ve dedicated to Garcia’s Frisco teammates, Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt. They have a chance to be special. Unique talents that not only make it to the big leagues but excel. Scouts refer to players in this category as “first division” starters. The best. But as we all know, the bigs aren’t just filled with All-Stars. There are fringe players. Names you know if you follow a certain squad, but names that are mostly unfamiliar to a wider audience. I’m not saying Leury Garcia is destined to this fate, but he could certainly do worse.
Leury has played a lot of second base for Frisco (38 games) and is learning the position as he goes this season. He had been a shortstop until The Curacao Kid showed up and bumped him to the other side of the bag. By most accounts, Garcia is probably a better shortstop. Leury is fast. Like Craig Gentry fast. Lots of 7’s and 7.5’s from scouts on his speed. As I’ve watched him play this year, he’s one of those guys who’s first couple of reactions to the ball being hit are so damn fast he makes difficult plays look easy. Balls hit to the holes are scooped up by his quick hands, all made possible by his lightning quick feet. He just gets to everything. His arm is certainly strong enough for the left side of the infield. I’ve only seen him play on the left side a couple of times in person, so I’m also relying on reports from his days in Myrtle Beach and Hickory and the arm is certainly strong enough for shortstop. In an interview with Lone Star Dugout’s Jason Cole, Rangers Minor League Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler, discussed how Garcia often shags balls with the outfielders and if the time ever came, the transition for him to learn the outfield would be a pretty easy one. True to word, he’s actually started two games recently in centerfield. He’s simply that good of an athlete.
So, to recap, great glove, great arm, game-changing speed, incredibly versatile and very capable nearly anywhere on the diamond. What’s the holdup? Well, Leury has to hit.
At a game last month, I half-jokingly asked 3 or 4 scouts to give me an actual hard number on Leury’s height and weight. The general consensus? 5’5” and 165lbs. Yep, Ronald Guzman is more than an entire foot taller than Leury. The bat? Well, he’s had to work at it. The good news is, the hit tool is developing. He’s a switch hitter, which, in the minor leagues, means you mostly hit from the left side. He is naturally right handed and reports are, when he showed up in Arizona a few years ago, the left sided swing was near comical. It ain’t funny anymore. One of the aspects of the game where he has made strides this season is simply putting the ball in play and letting his speed be an asset. It’s as though someone finally told him, “Dude, you’re pretty small but fast as shit, just hit it anywhere”. He’s not going to be a power hitter and he’s accepted his fate. (8HR in almost 1600PA) After spending the first half of the season right around or a little below .300, he’s now hitting .270. He needs to walk more, only 7 free passes this year, and he still strikes out far too often, 56 times thus far. His pitch recognition and approach need improvement. I watched him strike out on three straight changeups when everyone in the stadium knew the changeup was coming. But he’s hitting. It is improving.
After a short DL stint, Frisco manager Steve Buechele slid Garcia into the 2 hole as a setup guy for Profar and Olt. He’s done well in this role although as a big leaguer he’d most likely be further down in the line-up, perhaps ninth. For the last week or so, he’s been in the 7 spot. Guys like Garcia are fascinating to watch. If you never had to hit, he’d be in the big leagues now. But you do have to hit and a guy like him won’t be given a damn thing. He’ll have to earn it. Leury smiles a lot and seems to be a pretty affable kid. When he wears the oversized batting helmet required in minor league ball, he resembles a slightly larger-than-scale bobble head doll. Over the past few years, the Rangers have shown a good ability to find, nurture and develop players like Garcia alongside players like Profar. Every big league lineup needs guys like Garcia. Is he going to be a superstar? Probably not. Is he going to be a big leaguer capable of contributing at certain times? I would bet in favor of it.
Be well and enjoy baseball.