TCN 2016 Cards Prospect #25: Anthony Garcia

Now on the 40-man roster, the 23-year-old could position himself for an MLB debut in 2016.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

School: San Juan Educational School, Puerto Rico

2015 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR OF 01,04,92 6-0 180 R R 2009 18th

Selected 2015 stats

Mem 0.276 0.311 58 7 16 4 2 10 6 11 0 0.364 0.344 0.483 0.827
Spr 0.285 0.317 288 50 82 22 11 54 45 54 6 0.400 0.400 0.476 0.876
total 0.283   346 57 98 26 13 64 51 65 6   0.391 0.477 0.868

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (20): At #20, Anthony Garcia finished higher in the community voting than the others. BobReed began voting for Garcia early on, picking him at #17. He believes Garcia has too much bat to pass up, noting that at four different levels, he has posted wRC+ numbers between 135 and 150, with 100 being average. BobReed also stated that Garcia has only faltered when he played in the uber-unfriendly hitting environment of Class A Palm Beach.

PadsFS (me) wrote that I really liked how Garcia has gone from a 4:1 K:BB ratio to a 1.5:1 ratio this year. CariocaCardinal said he isn’t ready to get back on the Garcia bandwagon just yet. Wileycard was worried about where Garcia would fit on the big league team although that has been somewhat mitigated by the departure of Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay and Jason Heyward since he posted that.

BobReed had a final line about how Clay Davenport, one of the Baseball Prospectus’ founders, has his own projections website and sees Garcia as roughly putting up a .270/.360/.480 line during his peak years. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore (24): After the Florida State League had squashed his potent bat, a resurgent 2015 campaign landed Garcia back onto the prospect map. The corner outfielder's .876 OPS at Springfield warranted him a late-season promotion to Memphis. This fall, the parent club rewarded his success by adding him to the 40 man roster, thus avoiding Rule 5 draft eligibility.

Garcia, 23, has big-time power, but in an eight-team league where divisional clubs play each other 32 times a year, the book was out on his glaring hole at the plate. Due to a free-swinging approach, Garcia did not flash any game power until May. He worked diligently with Springfield hitting coach Erik Pappas to stay on the ball and maintain his approach, which led to a career June and MVP performance at Pan-Am Games.

"Like the bat some. Has a good idea and game plan at the plate," said a pro scout. "Garcia is growing on me. Much improved from early May when I saw him first. Better bat speed and game plan. Hitting the ball hard but not trying to do too much."

Some observers suggest his struggles in Palm Beach helped him gain experience in seeing more pitches and with that comes the ability to recognize a breaking ball better than he has before. On the other side of the ball, the converted catcher has a good arm, but his defense is his weakest tool. He has a tendency to take adventurous routes at the corners and plays with stiffness in his actions and is a little too short to play first base from what industry watchers have told me. Some are uncertain if he can play the corners in the Major Leagues.

Therefore, he could profile in left field or would fit as a DH if moved to an AL team. His 2015 was impressive after the FSL bug bit him and he garnered fans as he was able to spit on off-speed stuff away and took his plate discipline to the next level. Some perceive his power as the best in the system, but he is a bit blocked and scouts project him out as a future 45-grade (fringe) player at best.

Ultimately, Garcia is a bat-first prospect in my view and will be an up-and-down guy from Memphis while providing a jolt if the St. Louis has that need next year. I would expect him to receive consistent at-bats when not in St. Louis.

Brian Walton (30): Once burned, twice learned. I was among those all over Garcia earlier in his career - even before he became a winter ball superstar for Puerto Rico - but a lot of rough ground traveled between then and now causes me to continue to hold some reservations.

At Johnson City in 2011, the then-19-year-old moved into the spotlight with some impressive offensive numbers, including the sixth-highest batting average (.308), second-highest OBP (.407), sixth highest SLG (.527) and third-highest OPS (.935) in the Cardinals minor league system.

The right-handed hitter followed that with a jump to the Midwest League for his age 20 season. Garcia’s 2012 on-base percentage of .354, slugging percentage of .525 and .879 OPS were third, second and third in the Class-A league, respectively. His 34 doubles tied him for second in the Cardinals system and his 19 long balls were third-most.

After having ranked in the 20’s in our top 40 prior to the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Garcia’s career roller coaster reached its peak to date. He steamed into the 2013 campaign as our number nine prospect in the entire system. (My personal ranking was number 12.) It turned out to be a reach.

That immediately preceded his arrival in the Florida State League, where he hit a wall. Injuries and ineffectiveness led to an assignment that took him two entire seasons to complete. Better pitching and bigger ballparks exposed Garcia’s weaknesses and he was slow to react. His 2013 was so rough that he dropped off our top 40 entirely and his 2014 was not much better.

Yet, Garcia remains the top power prospect in the system among outfielders and arguably, among all hitters. His .477 slugging mark between Springfield and Memphis in 2015 was third-highest in the Cardinals organization. As a result, Garcia returns to this top 40 after a two-year absence.

Due to the Cardinals’ many roster changes occurring around him, Garcia finds himself in a good position coming into 2016. He is the only outfielder in the system with a spot on the 40-man roster to have reached Triple-A.

When St. Louis needs help at the position this coming season, their current choices are limited. They consist of Garcia, 28-year-old Jeremy Hazelbaker, who was recently re-signed to a minor league contract for 2016, and Charlie Tilson. Like Garcia, Tilson is a prospect on the 40-man, but has no at-bats at Triple-A to date and is a different kind of player – a leadoff, centerfielder type, not a power threat.

The bottom line for Garcia personally has not changed, however. The same questions that began in 2009 still dog him today. Can his power potential overcome his subpar defense and free-swinging approach at the plate? Has he grown enough to be able to make the final step? We will know a lot more in 2016.

Our 2016 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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