Scouting Rangers Prospect #34: Leury Garcia

Shortstop Leury Garcia impresses with his exceptional speed and defensive tools, but his bat and small stature cause plenty of debate among scouts. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 19-year-old prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Leury Garcia
Position: Shortstop
DOB: March 18, 1991
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 160
Bats: Both
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2007 International Free Agent

While most amateur Latin American signees spend at least part of their debut season in the Dominican Summer League, shortstop Leury Garcia began his professional career state-side.

Garcia signed with the Rangers in the summer of 2007 and joined the rookie-level Surprise Rangers in '08. Working as the club's everyday shortstop, the switch-hitter posted overall uninspiring numbers. He batted .209/.250/.279 with a 28.8% strikeout rate and 21 errors in 39 contests (.874).

Despite the rough debut summer statistically, Garcia impressed with his raw tools and came back with a strong showing at Fall Instructional League. The club gave the then 18-year-old an aggressive assignment straight to full-season ball in 2009, as he spent the entire year with Single-A Hickory.

Considering his youth, size, and the jump in competition, Garcia showed slight improvement with the Crawdads in '09 but still didn't produce much in the way of statistics. Playing in 83 games, he hit .232/.288/.286 with 19 stolen bases in 25 attempts. In the field, he committed 30 errors for a .888 fielding percentage.

The Dominican Republic native showed further improvement while repeating the South Atlantic League last season, posting a .262/.307/.323 slash line with 47 steals in 56 tries. He also stole four-of-six bases during a short rehab stint in rookie ball. And although Garcia progressed some defensively, he still had 30 errors in 89 contests (.929).

The 19-year-old has grown slightly while adding some muscle over the last couple of years. Originally 5-foot-7 and 153-pounds when he signed in '07, Garcia was listed at 5-foot-10, 160-pounds on the club's Fall Instructional League roster earlier this offseason. But he doesn't offer much more physical projection––he's always going to be an undersized player that will rely more on his speed and defensive tools as he progresses through the system.

Also See: Rangers Minor League Notes (March 6, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Notes (March 29, 2010)
Top Prospects, Top Tools (January 14, 2011)

Prospect Videos:

Leury Garcia 2010 reel from Jason Cole on Vimeo.

Batting and Power: The switch-hitting Garcia showed improvement while repeating Hickory in 2010, but the bottom line remains the same––he has a fringy bat with a potential average hit tool and minimal power projection. The Rangers currently list Garcia at 5-foot-10, 160-pounds. And despite the prospect's small frame and youth, he rarely appears overmatched, posting a solid 14.5% strikeout rate last season. But he also doesn't have the strength to consistently drive the ball. Although Garcia shows the ability to use all fields from both sides of the plate, he'll need to become more patient (5.9% walk rate) in order to maximize the hit tool.

Base Running and Speed: With raw speed that borders on being a plus-plus tool, Garcia is arguably the fastest prospect in the Rangers' minor league system. His speed and improving awareness should make him a legitimate stolen base threat throughout his career. After attempting just 25 steals over 83 contests in '09, Garcia was much more aggressive on the base paths last season. He swiped 51 bags in 62 attempts over just 95 games.

Defense: Garcia has elite defensive tools, but he's raw in game action. The game still moves too fast for him at times, leading to high error totals. He committed 30 errors in 89 games (.929) with Hickory last season––an improvement over his .888 fielding percentage (42 errors) in '09.

The prospect's arm strength and range are borderline 70-grade tools. He has good athleticism, first-step quickness, and a quick release on this throws. His size can be an issue, as he currently shows a tendency to bail out of potential contact plays around the second base bag. While Garcia does show smooth actions and soft hands in drills, he's still quite a ways from actualizing as a plus defender in games.

Projection: Scouts' opinions on Garcia are generally wide-ranging, with some evaluators seeing him as a non-prospect (small stature, limited hit tool) while others view him as a potential big leaguer (plus arm, range, run). In the end, the limited ceiling on Garcia's bat will likely keep him from becoming an everyday player in the majors. But with elite defensive and speed tools, he could develop into a solid big league utility option if his hit tool develops at all. The 19-year-old has the athleticism and arm strength to handle multiple positions if necessary, and his game-changing speed would be a definite asset to any club.

2011 Outlook: Garcia should be ready to tackle High-A Myrtle Beach as the club's everyday shortstop out of camp this spring. He's almost certain to spend the entire season with the Pelicans. While Garcia showed a good deal of improvement with the bat in 2010, both his offensive and defensive games must show more maturity (including cutting down on the errors) before he's ready to handle the upper levels.

ETA: 2014.

2008 AZL Rangers (RK) .209 129 3 0 14 17 12/15 8 40 .250 .279
2009 Hickory (A) .232 83 6 1 18 28 19/25 18 64 .288 .286
2010 AZL Rangers (RK) .500 18 2 0 2 5 4/6 4 4 .591 .611
Hickory (A) .262 359 5 3 22 57 47/56 23 57 .307 .323

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