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MLB Prospect Profile: Luis Garcia, SS-3B, Washington Nationals

Clinton Riddle/SBNation

At eighteen years old and in his first season of low Class-A ball, Washington Nationals prospect Luis Garcia has come on strong after a rough beginning.

Acquired during the 2016-2017 international signing period, Washington paid Garcia $1.3 million based on his toolsy profile, professional bloodlines (his father Luis also played pro baseball), and projected ability to adjust to the pro ranks. He took to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League quickly, batting .302 in 49 games, with eight doubles, three triples, and 22 RBI, adding in eleven steals as well.

This year in Class-A Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League, Garcia struggled mightily (.198 BA, .475 OPS in 23 games in April), but got hot in May, batting .371 and posting a .930 OPS for the month. When the season started, Garcia had not yet even turned eighteen; in fact, his birthday was only three weeks ago.

Garcia’s solid frame gives him the appearance of a player slightly taller than his listed 6’, 190, and doesn’t look like your typical eighteen-year old. Even at this age, Garcia already grades out average or higher in all categories except power, and that should increase as he gets older and more accustomed to the minors.

He’s got a great deal of natural athleticism and handles shortstop well enough to remain there as he advances. He makes the routine plays, and will show a mix of confidence and aggression on tough plays that belies his years, from time to time. If he does move to a new position, his arm plays everywhere on the field, even right. He has played a mix of third base and shortstop, this year, and could easily settle into third full-time in the future.

Garcia has a great deal of speed, and should be a legitimate threat on the base-paths in the coming years. A little work on his base-running skills and knowing when to run should lead to at least 25 steals per season, maybe more.

He’s barely a tick below double-plus, speed-wise, at the moment.

At the plate, Garcia has quick hands and generally takes a short path to the ball, but often doesn’t get his whole body involved and certainly doesn’t take full advantage of his lower half or core strength. That will come along with time and repetition, but for now it does affect his extra-base totals (10 XBH in 53 games).

He also keeps the strikeouts to a minimum (37 in 217 PA), and rarely grounds into a double play (three GIDP, so far). Like many left-handed batters, he struggles mightily vs. LHPs (.210 BA, .476 OPS in 65 PA), but with the tools he has it may not limit his playing time that much, in the coming years. His hand-eye coordination at the plate is such that it led him to make weak contact with pitches he should have laid off, last year, but his plate discipline has markedly improved since then.

There’s plenty of time for Garcia to make his way up the chain, but as it stands at the moment he’s got potentially a very bright future ahead of him. Speed and defense alone should carry him far, and if the whole package comes together he should have a long ML career ahead of him.