Detroit Tigers OF Prospect Avisail Garcia - Gregory Shamus
Everyone was (somewhat) justifiably enthralled with the play of Avisail Garcia down the stretch and in the postseason in 2012. Some have gone so far to pencil him into the starting lineup in 2013. What are his strengths and weaknesses from a scouting perspective? Is he ready for the big leagues full time? What can we reasonably expect from him going forward?
Born 6/12/91. 21 years old
Can play all 3 OF positions, profiles best in RF
Signed out of Venezuela in 2007 as a 16 year old
2011 (Class Advanced A-Lakeland): .266/.297/.389/.686/129 Games. 488 AB, 129 H, 16 2B, 6 3B, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 53 R, 18 BB, 132 K, 14 SB
2012 (Class Advanced A-Lakeland and Class Double A-Erie): .299/.333/.455/.789/122 Games. 481 AB, 144 H, 17 2B, 8 3B, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 78 R, 18 BB, 95 K, 23 SB
2012 (Detroit-MLB-Not including playoffs): .319/.373/.319/.692/.23 Games. 47 AB, 15 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 10 K, 0 SB
As you can see, Garcia essentially improved across the board from 2011 to 2012, finally tapping into his impressive array of tools that scouts have been raving about since his professional debut in the Venezuelan Summer League (VSL). He didn't improve his walks at all, but cut his strikeouts down by nearly 40 while playing at advanced A and AA at 20-21 years old. We also saw an increase in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases: All of which speak to Garcia finally harnessing his skills and allowing them to translate to the baseball diamond in game situations. I don't think Garcia will ever walk a significant amount, but he has the hitting ability to consistently get on base at a .340-350 or so clip, which, when coupled with his power, should be good for an above-average OPS in the major leagues.
Barebones Projection (BBP):
Has the skills to be an above-average to plus regular in the major leagues. Ceiling echoes that sentiment. However, I think a good, above-average regular in the more likely ceiling for Garcia.
Basis of Report:
-Personal Observation (2012 with Detroit)
-Compilation of other reports
-Personal observations of other scouts, told to me via email/text
Garcia is a true physical specimen. He stands 6'4", and weighs around 235-240lbs. Truly athletic player. No weight concerns (presently)
No makeup/attitude concerns to my knowledge. Venezuelan heritage works well with heavy Venezuelan presence in Tigers organization.
Somewhat of a free swinger...struggles with pitch recognition which makes him susceptible to breaking balls off the plate...good to very good bat speed...good loft on swing...hands are very fast, but that doesn't help him if he is unable to recognize pitches...gets barrel of bat to and through the zone in a timely manner...shouldn't have a problem with increased velocity...swing occasionally gets long if he hitches on load...currently an impatient hitter, but has shown improvement as he has matured...will never walk a lot, but shows ability to consistently make hard contact on pitches all over the zone...shows willingness and ability to go to opposite field...currently has below-average hitting ability, but I believe his hitting projects to at least average
Current Grade: 40
Projection Grade: 50
Plus raw power, actually may be a tick above plus...power does not play to full potential in game situations due to below average hitting ability...shows good loft on swing...excellent backspin on balls he squares up...has shown that his swing gets long when he tries to kill a ball...very, very strong hitter than translates to a very strong swing...good to very good bat speed...lack of pitch recognition ability hurts him here...if hitting ability can reach at least average, he has potential for 20+ home run ability...good gap power...speed allows his gap power to play up because he can turn doubles into triples...has ability for power to all fields
Current Grade: 65
Projection Grade: 60
Excellent natural instincts in OF...gets quick reads on batted balls and shows excellent footwork when chasing them down...takes very good routes to balls...shows good hip swivel, which is somewhat rare for a man his size...has present and athleticism to handle CF at an at least average level, but that will decline as he ages...easy plus defender in corner outfield spots...speed allows his defensive ability to play up...projects best as a very good defender in RF...as he slows down/matures he may lose a step in the OF, which may downtick his ability a half grade
Current Grade: 60 (in RF)
Projection Grade: 55 (RF)
Best OF arm in the Tigers' system...quite simply, he has a cannon...shows excellent arm strength from anywhere, which is partially why he projects best to RF...quick release...excellent throwing mechanics...arm does not drop to a lower angle when throwing...very accurate, allowing grade to play up...succinctly put, he has a hose
Current Grade: 70
Projection Grade: 70
Current plus runner, allowing his defense to play up...will undoubtedly slow down as he matures...showed speed in MLB when running out IF hits...projects to have 10-15 stolen base ability...good running mechanics...quick out of the box, which is very impressive for a man his size...very impressive 1st to 3rd/2nd to home times...shows good base running instincts...gets good reads on batted balls while on the base paths, allowing speed to play up a tick...
Current Grade: 60
Projection Grade: 50
Garcia is one of the most exciting prospects in the Tigers system, due to his athleticism and size combo. The biggest question lies with his hitting ability. If he can hit at an at least average level, his other tools should allow him to become an above-average regular. Potential to be an impact defender in RF due to defensive ability and plus-plus arm. Plus raw power and speed make him a true potential stud. Keep in mind that I said "potential". If his hitting ability never develops adequately, he can be a very good 4th OF, with good D, a plus plus arm, and good pop in his bat when he plays.
I really, really want Garcia to start 2013 in the minors, maybe even back at Double A-Erie. It's not that I don't like him or believe in him, trust me I do, I just think he needs another year (at least) before he's ready. Right now, he would probably be the Tigers 2nd best OF defender behind Jackson (and yes, this includes Torii Hunter), and would easily have the best OF arm, and while that's all well and good, I don't think that having him platoon with Andy Dirks would help his development. He needs to play every day against both RHP and LHP, developing his plate discipline, pitch recognition, and power. We saw that he has the ability to hit RHP in his brief tenure with the Tigers, but he stepped into the batters box with a 2 strike mentality already, meaning that he was more concerned with making simple contact and not striking out, than he was with naturally hitting. That undoubtedly helped the Tigers down the stretch and in the playoffs, but it's not Garcia's game. He has plus (maybe even plus-plus) raw power, and for him to reach his potential and solidify RF in Detroit for the next several years, he needs to develop his hitting ability in the minor leagues, which will allow that power to play more. I could see him in Detroit again in 2013, but I think he's at least a year away from being ready to contribute regularly. I'd be willing to pencil him into the Opening Day 2015 lineup, but not 2013, and MAYBE not 2014. Folks, bear with me here, please. I know we were all excited with his debut in 2012, but he's not ready for full time yet. Trust me, and trust the scores of other guys writing the same thing I'm writing right now.