Harold Garcia was one of those guys who seemed to be sort of stuck in the Venezuelan Summer League and the Phillies left him in his native Venezuela for three seasons, even though he had put up some decent numbers along the way. Garcia eventually made it to the states for the 2008 season and has helped two teams to league titles in his time here. In his first season, Garcia wound up third in the Gulf Coast League in slugging percentage with a .511 mark as the GCL Phillies took the league title that summer. Last season, Garcia was at Lakewood and he hit .291 with a career-high eight home runs on the season and again, was a main component for Lakewood's run to the South Atlantic League title.
Perhaps with his history of championships since coming to the states, every one of the Phillies minor league affiliates would have liked to have him on their roster, but he wound up with Clearwater and the Threshers couldn't be happier about having him on their squad. In his 39 games with Clearwater this season, Garcia has hits in 37 of them, including at least one hit in each of the last 31 games, during which he's hitting .355 to go along with his .340 overall average this season with the Threshers. So far, his presence hasn't brought as much winning as it did to the GCL Phillies and Lakewood BlueClaws, with Clearwater finishing the first-half at 37-33, tied for second in the division.
Garcia isn't the greatest known of the Phillies prospects, but he's steadily staking his claim and is quickly getting more and more attention. At 23, his extended time in the VSL likely didn't hurt him too much and it certainly helps that he's putting together some good numbers which could help him move relatively quickly through the system. In fact, Garcia might be progressing fast enough for an in-season promotion to Double-A Reading, where he could be matched up with fellow infield prospect Freddy Galvis. While Galvis and Garcia are different type players - Galvis is known more for his glove, while Garcia is known more for his bat - they could potentially form an interesting middle-infield tandem, but thus far, Galvis has always been at least one step ahead of Garcia on the Phillies minor league ladder.
While he's hit just two home runs this season, Garcia does have the ability to turn on a ball occasionally, but is never going to be a hitter along the lines of Chase Utley. Instead, he's going to rely more on spraying the ball around the field and finding the gaps, so he can use his above-average speed to make things happen on the basepaths. During his current streak, Garcia has 11 doubles and two triples to his credit and he's on a pace to outdo his career-high 21 doubles that he had last season. In other words, Garcia just keeps getting better and better at the plate and the Phillies aren't too worried about what power he may bring to the table, as long as he keeps hitting the way that he has. Of course, baseball these days tends to call for a power-hitting second baseman, or at least someone who can consistently hit the longball to play the position, but there's certainly no rule that says teams have to stick to that mold. In fact, there is a trend starting to appear where clubs are looking more for players who can disrupt things with their speed and maintain strong on-base percentages, both of which Garcia is capable of doing.
It also doesn't hurt that Garcia is a switch-hitter, although his numbers have generally been much better when he's swinging from the left side of the plate. This season, for example, Garcia is hitting .362 as a left-handed hitter and .292 as a right-handed hitter, which isn't to say that he's weak against left-handers, but he certainly shows a preference for hitting from the left side of the plate. Since coming to the states, Garcia is hitting .224 against left-handers, compared to .333 against right-handers, with 13 of his 16 home runs coming against right-handed pitching and 89 of his 109 RBI also coming against righties.
While he hasn't been known for his glove-work, Garcia has shown tremendous improvement defensively and has yet to make an error in 130 chances this season. In the past, Garcia has been the type of defensive player that could go into defensive slumps and would tend to make a bunch of errors in a short amount of time, but this season, he's been very steady and has shown good range and a good ability to turn the double-play at second base.
This could go down as the season in which Garcia truly breaks out offensively and it will also be noted that he has improved defensively. The power numbers are never going to be there, but Garcia is the type of player who puts energy behind every play and there are few who can out-hustle him on the field. It's going to be interesting to see which direction the Phillies go with Garcia. It almost seems that at some point, they're going to have to challenge him, either by promoting him to Double-A Reading during the season or with a potential jump straight to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011. The Phillies aren't exactly stumbling over middle-infield prospects in their organization, so Garcia could escalate himself to a much faster track if he continues to hit the way he has this season with Clearwater. It seems likely that a Galvis/Garcia middle-infield pairing will happen at some point and it should be exciting to watch, possibly, for years to come.
Harold Garcia's career stats
|Minor League Totals||19||148||.294||325||1103||189||324||65||17||89||27||98||228||.380||.435|