With the departures of Taylor Trammell, Jeter Downs, Shed Long, and Josiah Gray from the Reds system, it may seem at first glance that the Reds system is somewhat emptied, that the cost of improving the major league team in the short-term has left the farm system in need of replenishing. Thankfully that is not the case, at least not yet. The next group of promising prospects is already sliding in to fill the gap.
Among the more interesting of those is shortstop Jose Garcia, whom I ranked third in my preseason Reds top 50 prospects list. Garcia came over from Cuba and went straight to the Midwest league in 2018, skipping the DSL and AZL Reds, I believe because Garcia had already been playing a while in Cuba and was advanced enough that the Reds didn’t feel he needed to go through the two lowest leagues. Understandably he got off to a slow start with the Dayton Dragons slashing just .240/.290/.344 with 6 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 517 plate appearances. He adjusted well, however, and the next season (at Advanced-A Daytona Tortugas) he upped his game and hit .280/.343/.436 with 8 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 452 plate appearances, and increased his wRC+ from 81 to 131. If there was one “hole” in his game, it was his walk rate: 3.7% in ’18 and 5.5% last year; not ideal but at least last season, it’s because he was putting the ball in play more, and his strikeout rate did drop from 21.7% to 18.4% over that time frame.
— Chris Blessing (@C_Blessing) October 10, 2019
Jose Garcia profiles as extremely athletic, with plus speed showing up first defensively (in addition to smooth and efficient fielding and throwing) and then on the base paths as he increased his stolen base success notably from 2018 to 2019. Garcia’s hitting mechanics are ahead of the curve, as you can see in the nice video above from Chris Blessing of BaseballHQ.com. Garcia shows nice hip rotation clearing a path for his hands, with a leg kick that really reminds me of Josh Donaldson, and he gets nice loft on the ball with an clean, upper-cut swing. That kind of hitting approach in Great American Ballpark seems ripe to me for 25 to 30, maybe more, home runs. The question of in-game power is still up in the air, but what seems likely is that at the very least, Garcia is primed to be an excellent hitter who can spray the ball to all fields. Scouting reports I’ve seen suggest that the Florida State League has tended to mask Garcia’s true power potential, as the league is notoriously pitcher-friendly. So it’ll be interesting to see what he does once he moves up to the next level.
With Garcia already above average defensively and the hit tool coming along well, the Reds may not feel the need to sign or trade for a replacement for Galvis long-term, should they choose to make a change there. Garcia, by my estimation, could be ready for major league action as soon as 2021, and I further believe Garcia is the Reds‘ shortstop of the future.
Rudie Verougstraete is the Cincinnati Reds correspondent at Prospects1500. He lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Shelly who is the Washington Nationals correspondent. He has been an avid baseball fan since 2015, participates in multiple fantasy baseball leagues, and attends Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA affiliate) and Washington Nationals games whenever he can! His favorite baseball function is First Pitch Arizona, a fantasy baseball conference hosted by Baseball HQ every year just outside Phoenix.