Garcia Becoming A Pro

The Yankees signed shortstop Wilkerman Garcia out of Venezuela this past summer for a reported $1.35 million. Widely considered one of the top ten amateur talents in this year's International free agent market, the 16-year old [he won't turn 17 until April] says he is not only seeing his entire game improve but he is quickly learning what it means to be a professional ball player.

Long rumored to be heading to the Yankees, the switch-hitter officially signed with the Yankees on July 2nd.

"It was like the best feeling in the world for me, signing with the Yankees," Garcia said through the help of a translator. "A lot of other teams were interested in me but in the end it was the Yankees that committed to me."

Not overly toolsy, he immediately drew comparisons to current Yankee shortstop prospects Abiatal Avelino and Thairo Estrada as more of a steady performer than an ultra-toolsy player like Jorge Mateo. And just like with Avelino and Estrada, it's on the defensive side of the ball where Garcia believes he begins his career with a strong footing.

"I feel like my defense is my best tool," he opined. "I feel most confident and most secure with my play in the field. My reaction to the ball, my range, and my arm are pretty good."

Team insiders see the comparisons to Avelino and Estrada already even though Garcia, who will essentially be a rising junior in high school next year, refuses to put himself on their level just yet.

"Obviously I'm not going to compare myself to them. They play my game and I play my game."

To get his game on to their level he realizes there are going to have be some quick adjustments made in the early going.

"My hitting has to get a lot better and my routine [defensive] plays," he admitted. "You have to make those plays constantly everyday.

"I have to get better with my swing -- sometimes I'm too late, I get under the ball, or I open up so I have to clean that up."

Limited to play on the back fields at the Yankee Dominican academy this past summer and some Instructional League games this offseason, he does feel his game has come a long way in a short period of time. More than anything, however, he believes he is quickly adapting to life as a professional ball player.

"My offense and my defense have dramatically increased but the thing that has improved the most is the way I go about my preparation each day," he said. "Obviously learning with all of the other players around me, everybody is professional so you have to step up to the plate."

It remains to be seen at which level he'll begin his debut season next year but it doesn't matter to him. For Garcia he is simply just ready to get his career started.

"I'll be very happy obviously as the day that I signed with the Yankees. It will be amazing for me to have a good year," he concluded.


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