We're getting closer. There are just 16 days until Spring Training, and now we're getting into the fun part of the previews. Today's profile is
Miguel Cabrera's twin brother Avisail Garcia, who will be looking to break camp with the Tigers this year.
What happened in last season?
Garcia bull-rushed his way into a late season call-up in 2012, hitting a combined .299/.333/.455 with 14 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 122 games between the Tigers' High-A and Double-A affiliates. He was a mid-season All-Star in the Florida State (High-A) league and was named the Tigers 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. Once called up, Garcia appeared in 23 regular season games for the Tigers, putting up a modest .692 OPS in 51 plate appearances. His only extra base hit for the Tigers, a double, came against the New York Yankees in the ALCS. He also did this to poor Coco Crisp in the ALDS. Not a bad debut for a 21 year old.
What needs to happen in 2013?
As mentioned above, Garcia needs to have a monster spring to cement his status with the big league roster. It's anyone's guess at this point where he sits in relation to guys like Brennan Boesch, Quintin Berry, or even Jeff Kobernus. Of those four, Garcia is the only natural right-handed hitting outfielder and his potential has all of us drooling over what could be if he puts everything together. Currently, however, Garcia doesn't have Berry's speed, Boesch's power*, or Kobernus' versatility.
*As bad as Boesch was last season, he still slugged higher than Garcia. Avisail will probably have better power numbers long-term, but he's currently the second coming of Singlio Ordonez without the .330 average or amazing hair. At least he has a rocket launcher for a right shoulder.
Wherever he ends up, I'd like Garcia to improve his walk rate. He might not be as fast as Berry, but he's dangerous enough on the basepaths that he needs to be there as often as possible. If he hits close to .300 again (not likely, but roll with me here), then his OBP needs to be above .350.
Oh, and more dingers. Always more dingers.
2012 stats and 2013 projections
The part where I predict pretty much the same thing Bill James does
If I haven't made it abundantly clear already, Garcia is a physical specimen with the potential to be a star at the MLB level. Whether he actually reaches those lofty standards is anyone's guess, but I would like to see him replicate his 2012 production in the minors for another season before we anoint him with the type of "ZOMG BEST PROSPECT EVAR" status* currently held by Nick Castellanos.
*Previous titleholders include a who's who of guys that were traded by the Tigers in recent years, Rick Porcello, and a bunch of draft busts from the Randy Smith era. Not. John. Smoltz.
However, if he happens to make the major league roster, expect Jim Leyland to get him a healthy share of at bats, especially if Andy Dirks falters early. The organization had no reservations about using Garcia in a pennant race last year, and they seem to be wavering on what they actually see in Andy Dirks. I don't anticipate Garcia being relegated to the bench if he makes the 25-man roster. If he makes it to Detroit in April, he's going to play, especially if Dirks falters early on. Garcia probably won't develop the kind of power his bulky frame suggests he possesses for a few years, but his other talents could still make 2013 a good year for him at the major league level.