We continue our countdown of top prospects here at The Good Phight, counting backwards from 20 to our top prospect.
Luis Garcia, 21, S/R
It was hard to know what to expect from García heading into the 2021 campaign. His impressive small sample of Rookie Ball production (he won the GCL batting title in 2018 at age 17) was followed up by a horrendous 2019 at Low-A, during which he posted a wRC+ of just 55. After the lost 2020 season, a 20-year-old García returned to Low-A and his on-paper production resurged, with his walk rate showing especially marked improvement (caveats related to automated balls and strikes apply). It was enough for the Phillies to put García on their 40-man, a move almost certainly made solely to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, as García is still too green to project for 2022 big league impact. While he has gotten strong enough to handle full-season pitching, he needs to continue if he’s going to hit big leaguers. At barely 21, that’s feasible for García, who lacks typical projection but looks stocky and strong everywhere but in his arms. The main feature here is still García’s terrific defensive actions, which are a middle infield lock. His build allows his swing to be practically compact even though it’s long, which enables him to check a lot of boxes we like: switch-hitting, short-levered, above-average rate of contact, middle infield profile. Those things alone allow for lots of on-roster utility. As García goes from big-bonus teenager to upper-level college-aged player, his ultimate ceiling is coming into greater focus, and increasingly it’s looking like that of a good utility guy.
Jay: 7, Ethan: 5, Alex: 6
Our writers here have a Slack channel, like most people who work together, to discuss all things Phillies. In addition to the staff here, we also have other who have written for The Good Phight, as well as friends we just like to talk baseball with. One of them is esteemed Phillies prospect guy, Matt Winkelman.
He won’t remember this, but a few years ago, when the Phillies were in contention for the playoffs and needed to make a deadline deal, he and I got into it a little bit about trading Luis Garcia. These were the days when the Phillies’ prospects weren’t exactly all that highly thought of, but this version of Luis Garcia was. He was still young and showed plenty of upside, but he was also in the midst of a horrible 2019 season. When discussing various prospects to trade, Matt was on the side of “don’t trade Garcia”, while I was on the “he’s probably your best trade piece!” side of the tracks. I’m not sure what any of this means, but it’s kind of where the Phillies might end things with Garcia.
The team has another prospect that can step into the majors either right now or in the short future and hold down the position for a while. Garcia is still young and a ways away, but the offensive improvement he showed in 2021 while also retaining his defensive chops make him a decent trade piece. As with the rest of the team’s system outside of the top two (?), he wouldn’t be able to lead a package for someone considered a game changer, but he also wouldn’t be just a throw-in. With Stott able to lock down shortstop, maybe Garcia is their best trade chip.
At the same time, he’s still a ways away and we don’t know if Stott is sticking at shortstop full time. Due to Garcia’s youth and proximity to the majors, there isn’t a need to rush to make a decision yet. There isn’t anything wrong with letting him move a level at a time to see if he can develop into something a little bit more. However, if 2022 has a trade deadline at all, Garcia could be an interesting chip for the Phillies to try to parlay into big league improvement. It’ll be an something to follow this minor league season.