The Detroit Tigers promoted outfielder Avisail Garcia to the majors for the stretch run, and the rookie is off to a 3-for-7 start in his first three games. What kind of future does he have with the Tigers, or anyone else for that matter? Let's take a look.
The Tigers signed Avisail Garcia out of Venezuela in 2007, giving him a $200,000 bonus, equivalent to a late third or early fourth round pick that year. He played well in the '08 Venezuelan Summer League, but found the going more difficult in the Midwest League in '09, where he struggle with his plate discipline (8/70 BB/K in 299 at-bats). Returning to West Michigan in '10, he hit .281/.313/.356 with just four homers and a 20/113 BB/K ratio, although he did steal 20 bases in 24 attempts.
Moved up to High-A Lakeland for 2011, Garcia hit .264/.297/.389 in 488 at-bats. He showed more power with 11 homers, but his plate discipline remained dismal with a 18/132 BB/K ratio. I gave him a Grade C entering 2012, noting that he was a good athlete with power/speed potential, but that his hitting approach was too unrefined to project success at higher levels without key adjustments.
Returning to Lakeland to open 2012, Garcia hit .289/.324/.447 with eight homers, 11 walks, and 57 strikeouts in 266 at-bats. The improved power was good to see, but his strike zone judgment remained poor. The Tigers promoted him to Double-A Erie anyway and his raw approach didn't seem to hurt: indeed, he had the best 55 games of his career in the Eastern League, hitting .312/.345/.465.
Overall in the minors this year, Garcia hit .299/.333/.455 with 14 homers, 18 walks, and 95 strikeouts in 481 at-bats. He stole 23 bases in 31 attempts.
Garcia is a 6-4, 240 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born June 12, 1991 in Anzoategui, Venezuela. Despite his size and weight, he is a good athlete with above-average speed and a strong throwing arm that works well in right field. His raw power is among the best in the Tigers system, and some adjustments with his swing enabled him to tap it more readily this year, especially against fastballs. On the other hand, despite his improvements the walk rate remains very low and his strikeout rate rather high. He still has issues with breaking balls, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to major league breaking pitches.
Garcia made progress this year, and at age 21 he has time to make more. I think he'd benefit from a full year of Triple-A in 2013. I'd give him a Grade C+ at this point.