TCN 2015 Cardinals Prospect #21: Greg Garcia

With increased competition but an apparent job opening in St. Louis, can the utilityman win out?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

School: University of Hawaii

2014 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
20 2B/SS 08,08,89 6-0 175 L R 2010 7th

Selected 2014 stats

Mem 0.272 0.342 382 60 104 12 8 40 41 95 7 0.337 0.358 0.382 0.740
Spr 0.333 0.417 15 2 5 2 0 1 1 4 1 0.360 0.353 0.467 0.820
Tot 0.275   397 62 109 14 8 41 42 99 8   0.358 0.385 0.743
StL 0.143 0.250 14 2 2 1 0 1 1 6 0 0.279 0.333 0.214 0.548

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (21): Greg Garcia was a bit of a lightning rod for criticism during our community discussion. After placing 14th in the 2014 community ranking, Garcia plummeted down all the way to #21 in this year’s vote.

MagnoliaCardFan believes we have seen Garcia’s peak at the Major League level. On the same point, MagnoliaCardFan believes that Garcia is a backup middle infielder at best and should no longer be a factor in the prospect voting. I, as PadsFS, noted that Garcia looks to be shifting off playing shortstop now, which really hinders his future value.

It was not all doom and gloom, however, as CardsInChitown believes Garcia’s OBP and ability to play shortstop will hopefully lead to the club releasing Daniel Descalso (which they did). He does not think that 18 MLB plate appearances should show anyone what Garcia is going to be when all is said and done. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore: It seems like Garcia has been around quite a while now as evidenced by his third straight season on the TCN top 40. This winter could very well be his last as the middle infielder is on the brink of being regularly shuttled back and forth between the Triple-A and the Major League level due to need and injury.

Garcia spent most of the 2014 season at Memphis even though he had three different stints with St. Louis. The 25-year old participated in 106 games for the Triple-A club, where the organization had him play three infield positions - third base, shortstop, and second base - instead of just focusing on one as they would utilize him as a utility option.

He hit .272 with eight home runs and 40 RBI at Memphis. The left-handed hitter batted .372 in a strong month of August, which helped earn him a September call-up. Garcia hit .143 in his first 14 games as a big-leaguer.

It is hard to say what Garcia’s exact role will be next year - whether he will go back to Memphis and play every day at three different positions again or take over Daniel Descalso’s role as a super-utility man. For the latter, he will have to fight against Pete Kozma and the new additions this winter, Dean Anna and Ty Kelly. This role opened up with Descalso being non-tendered.

With all that said, it will be an interesting spring to see who wants that utility role/25th spot on the roster the most. Garcia has always been the underrated one and perhaps this spring he will make it an easy decision as to who to go with.

Brian Walton (18): My ranking indicates I am more optimistic about Garcia than the community. Given the Cardinals’ actions over the last 90-120 days, that confidence is fading.

It began with Garcia’s use in the Majors, especially in September. It was almost non-existent. From his 2014 deployment of just 18 plate appearances alone, I am left with the distinct impression that he is rumbling along the Ryan Jackson route.

As a refresher, despite being a higher draft pick (fifth-rounder), a more accomplished shortstop and a more highly-ranked prospect (as high as #12 in 2012), Jackson was given all of 25 plate appearances over two seasons to prove his big-league mettle before being placed on waivers.

Add to that the logjam created by Cardinals bringing in two other middle infielders last month and placing both on the 40-man roster alongside Garcia. In his kitbag, Dean Anna has a Triple-A batting title, some Major League experience and the ability to play shortstop. Ty Kelly has some pop in his bat, but has no shortstop experience, being more of a second baseman/utility type.

To be honest, I still have a hard time seeing either Anna or Kelly on St. Louis’ roster to open the season. With no options remaining and the best glove of the group, I give the inside track to Pete Kozma – at least until/if someone with more experience is added.

If either of those latter scenarios come to pass, the two newcomers will likely be eating away at Garcia’s Triple-A playing time. That could especially be the case since the organization re-signed Scott Moore, apparently to return as the Redbirds’ every-day third baseman, therefore closing off another place for Garcia to play.

Then we have the next wave of middle infielders at Springfield, led by a couple of top prospects in Aledmys Diaz and Breyvic Valera. They may not arrive in Memphis in April, but if they keep hitting, their time should definitely come in 2015.

I think Garcia has earned a better chance at a shot at St. Louis, but without a lot of help or momentum behind him, I am wondering how it will ever happen.

Before you suggest Spring Training 2015 could be the turning point, here is why I doubt it. I predict the two new guys, Anna and Kelly - about whom opinions have not already fully been formed – will receive the longest looks in camp. In his limited 17 at-bat stint last spring, Garcia did fine, with a .294 average and a .429 OBP. What did that get him?

Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.

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