The Chicago White Sox promoted outfielder Willy Garcia to the major leagues on Monday. This is his second go-around with the Sox: he was promoted briefly in mid-April but was sent back down after seven at-bats. He was in the starting lineup again yesterday against the Kansas City Royals, going 0-for-4 but collecting an RBI. Let’s take a look at what he offers the White Sox.
Garcia is from the Dominican Republic, originally signed by the Pirates as a free agent in 2009. His progression through the system was slow but steady: the Dominican Summer League in 2010, rookie ball in 2011, Low-A in 2012, High-A in 2013, a textbook progression. He showed impressive power potential at every level along with questions about strike zone judgment and contact, issues further exposed when he reached Triple-A in ‘15. He hit .246/.285/.424 at that level in ‘15 and .245/.296/.366 in ‘16.
The Pirates put him on waivers this past winter and he was claimed by the White Sox. He is off to a fast start this year, hitting .294/.395/.529 with Triple-A Charlotte.
Garcia is listed at 6-4, 215, a right-handed hitter and thrower, born September 4, 1992. Tool-wise he is a prototype right fielder, with a 65-70 throwing arm and 60 raw power, combined with slightly below average speed. Although primarily a pull hitter, he is certainly strong enough to hit home runs to the opposite field when his approach is in gear.
Unfortunately, International League observers last year reported that his approach was frequently not in gear, his swing getting too long. Combine that with poor pitch recognition and he didn’t produce consistently for Indianapolis.
2017 has been different so far: he’s been notably more selective, already drawing 11 walks in 18 games compared to just 31 in 129 last season. Not surprisingly, better selectivity has resulted in improved production. It is a small sample size, of course, and he needs to show he can bring these changes forward to the major leagues.
As the Pirates Prospects video below shows, the Pirates were certainly aware of what Garcia needed to do. Perhaps he just needed a fresh start with another organization, or simply more time to iron out the changes.