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CariocaCardinal (9): I have long been one of Anthony Garcia's biggest supporters. Yet despite his high ranking, I considered this year a disappointment. His batting average dropped and his strikeout rate soared. That strikeout rate was below league average for strikeouts when taking the third strike but well above league average when swinging.
What kept Garcia rising in the rankings was a strong display of power. He was second in the Midwest League in slugging percentage (to teammate Colin Walsh). An amazing 50% of Garcia's hits in 2013 were for extra bases. Garcia has shown this power despite being just 20 years old this past season.
If Garcia can get his strikeout rate back under control and continue with his power, it will become harder and harder for the national prospect rankers not to take notice of him (which they have yet to do for the most part).
Many have speculated that Garcia could start 2013 in Double-A Springfield (skipping high-A Palm Beach). I would be shocked to see that happen. His high K totals are a red flag, indicating something that needs to be fixed. Rushing him would seem counter productive to doing that. I expect to see Garcia in Palm Beach to open 2013. Only after showing improvement there, would I expect a promotion to Springfield later in the season.
Message board community (9): Garcia jumped from the community's 23rd best prospect (last year) to ninth (this year) due to an impressive season at Quad Cities. At the tender age of 20, Garcia had an on-base percentage of .354 and slugging percentage of .525. That was good for third in the league in OPS and second in SLG.
Did I mention he was just 20? And this was despite him skipping Batavia and jumping straight from Johnson City to the Midwest League. The good season seems not to be isolated as he posted a .935 OPS in 2011.
It is instructive to compare Garcia to Carson Kelly, who was one slot later in our rankings. Kelly managed only a .662 OPS at Johnson City, though he did so younger than Garcia (aged 17/18, instead) and while playing a tougher position, third base. Compare Garcia to Allen Craig, too. Craig posted just a .725 OPS in the NY-Penn League at age 21.
If there are concerns about Garcia, it has been his plate discipline. He walked less and fanned more in 2012 than he had in 2011, with 34 walks and 107 strikeouts in his 396 at bats. I was also a bit more interested in Garcia when he was catching. But productivity such as his in the corner outfield would still be excellent. Garcia didn't show much on the basepaths last year, being caught six times in nine stolen base attempts.
There has been some speculation that Garcia might jump past Palm Beach to Springfield. I suppose that is possible, but there is no need to rush him, and developing better plate discipline is an important enough project to invest time in the Florida State League. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (12): For the second consecutive year, I am the least aggressive of our voters about Garcia. Though he is not in my top 10, Garcia did leap from number 28 last year to his current number 12. Despite the ranking, I actually agree with both Carioca and Gagliano about Garcia.
I share some of Carioca's concern about the downside results of the outfielder's free-swinging and wonder if a further slide may be just ahead against the stronger pitching of the Florida State League. Further, the bigger ballparks could have a negative effect on his power.
Like Gags, I find myself enthused over Garcia's relative youth, extra base prowess, and overall progress to date. I noticed that in 2012 in the Midwest League (where he was a post-season all-star selection), Garcia almost doubled his line drive rate over his 2011 in the Appalachian League (9.5 percent to 17.9 percent). To me, that is another indicator of growth by a still-young player.
In Garcia's winter ball results, one can find both good and bad, as it always seems with him. Overall, he has done a credible job in Puerto Rico against advanced competition. I like his 16 RBI in 34 games and his .810 OPS. The latter is the best by any Cardinals hitter not named Taveras in the major winter leagues. However, Garcia has also fanned 24 percent of the time.
We should not forget that less than two years ago, the Puerto Rican native was still a defensively-challenged teenaged catcher. Speaking of which, the stolen base results mentioned by Gags is a reminder that overall athleticism is one area in which Garcia does not receive rave reviews. That means he needs to work even harder to improve his outfield defense.
In closing, here is a system-wide point to consider. Once Oscar Taveras reaches the majors, Garcia will not only become the top-ranked outfielder in the Cardinals organization, but also the sole top outfield prospect with power potential. The other top 40 contenders - James Ramsey, Charlie Tilson, Adron Chambers, C.J. McElroy and Mike O'Neill - are generally speedy centerfield types.
Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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