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Wilkerman Garcia was on the shelf in Spring Training but he's ready to go for the regular season.

TAMPA, FL -- Shortstop Wilkerman Garcia may only be eighteen years old but he is quickly making a name for himself in minor league baseball. The Venezuela native is about to begin his second season and despite coming off of a tendinitis injury he feels confident and better prepared for the new year.

Last year, Garcia made his professional debut and put up some impressive numbers for a seventeen year old. He played on two different teams last season, the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League, tallying a .299 combined average with more walks [25] than strikeouts [19], a remarkable feat given his extreme youth.

“It was a good learning experience," Garcia said through the help of a translator.  "Thank God I stayed healthy [for the most part]. I learned a lot.  The beginning was a little difficult but I ended up learning a lot."

Garcia not only gained valuable learning experience as to what it is like to play at the professional level but he also learned what he needed to work on heading into his second season this year.

“I know how to prepare better for different kind of pitches and how to prepare better at the plate,” Garcia said. “The more I move up the tougher the pitches are gonna get so I’m trying to prepare better for every pitch and pitcher I face while at bat.”

During the offseason Garcia, who stole eleven bases in his debut season, worked on not only building muscle and getting stronger but preserving his speed too. Speed is one of Garcia’s best qualities according to hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez and during the off season Garica always kept that in the back of his mind while training.

“I did a lot of agility [drills] and lifted weights,” Garica said. “I didn’t want to lose my speed, so every time I lifted weights I would do agilities to maintain my speed.”

Reporting to camp in great shape Garica felt confident and ready to take on the new season. Between his successful debut season and all of the time and work he put into the off season he felt ready to go.

“I felt great going into this season," Garcia said emphatically.   "The work I put in during the off season really paid off. I think it’s going to be a great year.”

Spring training was a little rough for Garcia, however, due to the fact that he didn’t play in any games as he developed a minor shoulder injury.  Not exactly an injury but more soreness than anything, the Yankees decided to error on the side of caution with what is quickly becoming one of their top prospects. Missing a total of a month and a half due to tendinitis in his shoulder though, Garcia began to feel a little restless.

“I was just anxious to play and get back on the field but I was just worried about getting better before playing again,” said Garcia, who is back playing in games.

With just a couple of weeks left in the Extended Spring Training season and regular season about to begin Garica feels rested and ready to begin his second season.

“I feel great, I’ve got a lot of energy, and I’m ready to go,” he proclaimed.

Physically feeling great, it's Garcia's mental makeup that has team insiders such big believers so early in his career.  It's his overall understanding of the game for someone so young, his ability to analyze different aspects of the game and play smart while he’s on the field overall that has him appear very veteran-like at times.

“He’s a great kid that slows down the game and has an idea of his surroundings at all times, and you really don’t see that at this level,” hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez said.

Another area Garcia seems to shine in is his ability to make adjustments quickly. According to Gonzalez, in a game where you are constantly required to make adjustments, the ability to do that is a very special skill not a lot of young players have. Moving forward the biggest thing Garcia needs according to Gonzalez is just getting more experience.

“Just play, get more at-bats. He’s working on the right things and he has a unique and natural ability to hit and slow down the ball when he hits,” Gonzalez said.

Despite missing some time due to his injury Garcia feels good to go for 2016. Putting that minor hiccup behind him, the young short stop is anxiously awaiting his second season.

“I can’t wait for the season and even though I’ve missed some time I’m ready to go,” Garcia concluded.


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