As has been their recent practice, the St. Louis Cardinals took to twitter to make an announcement. On Thursday, the club reported they have purchased the contract of outfielder Anthony Garcia. Essentially, what this means is that the 23-year-old has been added to the organization’s 40-man roster. He will report to big-league camp in February.
The timing was important in that on Friday, a group of 14 Cardinals minor leaguers, including Garcia, would become minor league free agents. Even with Garcia set to return to Memphis, the Redbirds’ outfield next spring may be losing Rafael Ortega, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Xavier Scruggs via free agency. If he does not make the St. Louis roster, Tommy Pham could also be back.
(Members of The Cardinal Nation can read the details about this group of free agents here.)
The reason the Cardinals put Garcia on the 40-man instead of trying to get him to accept a more lucrative minor league deal is to also protect him from the Rule 5 Draft next month.
Garcia, a native of Puerto Rico, was originally drafted by St. Louis in the 18th round in 2009. He enjoyed a career renaissance in 2015 after struggling for two seasons at A-Advanced Palm Beach. Garcia reached his peak on Cardinals prospect lists (including ours) after ranking second in the 2012 Midwest League in extra-base hits, home runs and slugging.
More recently, the right-handed hitter was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014-2015 Puerto Rico Winter League. In fact, Garcia has been the league’s RBI champion two years running, with his 2014-15 total at 34 (in 39 games), up from 26 the prior season. His 10 home runs were also best in the five-team circuit. His .328 average was third, on-base mark of .422 tied for second behind Twins prospect Kennys Vargas and his .635 slugging was 98 points higher than the next closest player. It only stands to reason that Garcia’s 1.057 OPS topped the number two hitter by a whopping 102 points.
Garcia was excused from Springfield for several weeks this summer to again represent his homeland in the Pan Am Games. He led the tourney in home runs (five, next closest was three), RBI (17, next closest was nine) and slugging (.967, next closest was .727). Garcia’s batting average was “just” .393, sixth-best in the Games.
In his Double-A debut season, Garcia shined with 11 home runs, 45 RBI and 40 runs scored in 87 Texas League games. The right-handed hitter’s Springfield line was .285/.400/.476/.876 in 288 at-bats. He was recognized as the organization’s July Player of the Month.
Randal Grichuk’s August disabled list stint opened up the door to Memphis for Garcia. When Pham was promoted to St. Louis, the Cardinals moved Garcia up from Springfield for the first time.
In 18 games to close the season with Memphis, Garcia kept on hitting, with a slash line of .276/.344/.483/.827. Seven of his 16 hits went for extra bases, including two home runs. With the Redbirds, Garcia plated 10.
For more roster detail
Remember that to see the entire Cardinals system from the DSL to St. Louis in one graphical view with all transactions, free agents and more, check out the Roster Matrix, kept updated at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
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