During the 2015 Pacific Coast League season that ended just short of a playoff berth, the Memphis Redbirds had players step up all over the field.
Dean Anna, Xavier Scruggs and Rafael Ortega played a total of 365 games together. Jacob Wilson was a sensational local product. Jeremy Hazelbaker was perhaps Memphis’ best late addition. Dan Johnson and Ed Easley were esteemed veterans. But one player most consistently provided punch at the plate: shortstop Greg Garcia.
Garcia was the team-leader in batting average at .294 and on-base percentage at .485 (minimum of 60 games). The infielder also placed eighth in the team in RBI (36, tied with Easley), fifth in doubles (19, tied with Johnson) and second in steals (16 in 19 attempts).
Like the rest of the Redbirds offense, Garcia took a while to get things clicking. The infielder hovered around the low .200s in batting average in April and early May, but it didn’t take too long for the 26-year-old to get rolling.
Garcia boosted his season average up to .300 after a 2-for-3 and one RBI performance May 12 at Colorado Springs, on his way to being named the Cardinals organization’s Player of the Month while batting .361 in May. After a .346 mark in June, his season average peaked at .325 following the July 9 doubleheader vs. Nashville. The left-handed batter recorded several hit streaks during the season, with his longest a 10-gamer between June 1 and June 11.
Having first reached Memphis in 2013, Garcia has moved up on a number of the franchise’s all-time leader boards, including first in hit by pitches (27), fifth in stolen bases (37), eighth in triples (9) and ninth in games played (316) and at-bats (1066).
In addition to his 69 games at short, Garcia appeared at second base (19) and third base (6) in another 25 Redbirds contests in 2015. He also received three call-ups to St. Louis during the season and made the club’s National League Division Series roster over veteran Pete Kozma.
Although Garcia was our top star in the 2015 Memphis’ lineup, several other players stood out. Johnson was the team-leader in home runs (15) and RBI (62), with Scruggs not too far behind in second in home runs (14) and RBI (57). Wilson, a University of Memphis alumnus, was called up from Springfield in May and made his mark with 11 home runs and 56 RBI. Anna led the team and the PCL in walks (77).
Hazelbaker was the closest to usurping Garcia for the offense’s top star and perhaps would have made it had the outfielder been promoted to Memphis earlier. The 28-year-old, who debuted for the Redbirds on July 3 vs. Oklahoma City, was a revelation for the club after Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty received call-ups to St. Louis. The outfielder finished with a .333 batting average, 10 home runs, 46 RBI and a team-leading seven triples, all in a total of only 58 games. While Garcia is our choice as Memphis’ top player on offense, Hazelbaker has shown the potential to be great for the Redbirds next season, while Garcia has a chance to stick with St. Louis.
While there was plenty of competition for the award, one player was especially worthy of such recognition.
Congratulations to The Cardinal Nation’s Memphis Redbirds 2015 Position Player of the Year, Greg Garcia.
Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that includes our selections as the Memphis Redbirds Relief Pitcher and Starting Pitcher of the Year.
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