Mark LoMoglio

Here's a scouting report on Gulf Coast League Yankees shortstop Wilkerman Garcia.

The New York Yankees signed shortstop Wilkerman Garcia out of Venezuela for a reported $1.35 million in July of 2014. Just beginning his professional career, he has quickly become one of the more reputed young shortstop prospects in the game with his combination of high-shelf tools and advanced maturity.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Wilkerman Garcia
Position: Shortstop
DOB: April 1, 1998
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 175
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

Batting and Power. What makes Garcia quite unique is the calming presence he boasts in the batter's box at a tender young age; he not only believes he belongs there but wants to be there.  His confidence is palpable and it's because of his top-notch plate discipline and pitch recognition.  He knows the strike zone as well as anyone and at least in the early going he has shown a real reluctance to swing out of his zone.  He is able to use the whole field and that is his plan right from the jump, to take whatever pitchers give him.  A switch-hitter, what also makes him a bit rare too is the simplified and consistent swing mechanics he has from both sides of the plate.  He has the strong foundation in place to one day become a high-average hitter, plain and simple.  What is the unknown is how the power will eventually grade out; he shows signs of having excellent gap power with the great bat speed he has but with little natural loft to his swing and a body that still has a room to fill out in the coming years it remains to be seen if the average long-term power potential he projects to have might eventually begin to tick beyond that as he continues to mature and gain his man strength.

Base Running and Speed. Garcia is an above average runner overall speed-wise right now.  However, while he plays most areas of his game beyond his years it's in the running game where he is still quite raw.  He has the speed to be an impact runner both short-term and long-term but he's still learning the nuances of reading pitchers' moves and stealing bases, and therefore will make a few more mistakes in comparison to the other areas of his game.  He has the wheels to be a 20-30 stolen base threat in due time but it won't come without a few gaffes along the way.

Defense. Just like his hitting, Garcia is advanced beyond his years on the defensive side of the ball too.  Tools-wise he has a very strong arm, above average range, and he has very soft hands, all of which give him long-term premium defensive ability, but it's his internal game clock and innate feel for the position that really stands out and ties his game together.  He knows where and how to make various plays and that's very rare for a player who is essentially a rising high school senior.  He has the kind of arm strength where he could slide over to third if need be down the road, especially as he continues to fill out and get stronger, but he has the chops to not only stick at shortstop but become one of the more consistent defenders there too as he gains more experience. 

Projection. It isn't often that a young teenager boasts the kind of advanced hitting and defensive abilities to quickly project as a long-term big league starting shortstop but Garcia absolutely does.  With premium batting potential as a switch-hitter and arguably an already big league defensive skill set, Garcia has one of the higher floors in minor league baseball.  He has the athleticism to play a number of other positions if need be, including third base, second base, and perhaps even the outfield if tried there, and the kind of hitting-speed package to easily give him a big league reserve role at minimum.  However, he is also the kind of high-makeup player with a knack for consistency that a manager wants in the lineup and in the field as much as possible.  While his floor is not debatable at just 17 years old, what is debatable is just how high the ceiling is and how he would eventually fit into a big league lineup.  He has the kind of frame that could support a lot of useful muscle mass in the coming years and allow him to develop into more of a power hitter but it's an aspect of his game that will take some time to develop.  He reminds a lot of scouts of a speedier switch-hitting shortstop version of a young Robinson Cano and like Cano [who was a late-bloomer at the minor league level] it could take some time for the production to catch up to his solid across the board tools. 

ETA. N/A. Forget about his lack of long-season league experience yet, Garcia, who won't turn 18 years old until April, hasn't even played under the lights yet.  His game is definitely advanced enough on both sides of the ball where he could handle a quick promotion to low-A Charleston to start the 2016 season but the Yankees also have a ton of shortstop depth at the lower levels where taking their time [at least initially] with Garcia can be a luxury too.  He'll either be manning shortstop for the RiverDogs this season or playing for the Staten Island Yankees; either way he will be playing against much older competition.  He has the look of a quick riser though once he gains some A-ball experience initially.

2015 GCL Yankees .281 121 6 0 18 20 24 19 6 .396 .347 .743
2015 DSL Yankees .667 6 0 0 1 3 1 0 5 .750 .667 1.417

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