Luis Garcia Looks to Improve Approach in 2020

Photo Credit: @zbaseball86

While the stats for Luis Garcia in 2019 were short of some expectations, the 19-year-old prospect held his own as the youngest player in AA. The Nationals were very aggressive with Garcia’s assignment: he was about five years younger than the average age for Eastern League players during the 2019 season.

The team believed in his ability and makeup to handle the situation, and even though the totality of the season may seem disappointing, the team has invited him to spring training as a non-roster invitee in 2020 for the second season in a row. The staff at Prospects1500 still has faith in Garcia, as he was ranked the 71st best prospect in our end of season Top 172 Prospect Rankings. He was also awarded the inaugural Minor League Defensive Player of the year award for the Nationals organization.

The 6’2″ shortstop/2nd baseman has an excellent feel for making contact but very little power. I’m not sure if the power will ever develop, but I could see him ultimately being a 15-20 per season homerun player. Garcia’s bread and butter, though, is his ability to make contact. He is a very aggressive swinger and that is one area that he needs to improve upon if he is going to be the type of player everyone expects him to be. Let’s take a closer examination of his plate approach and dive into the numbers to see if there was any improvement as the season progressed.

To start, I wanted to look at four statistics that could be examined to show progression in his plate approach. For me, BA, OBP, K%, and BB% are good indicators as to how aggressive a batter’s approach is. For the season, Garcia finished with a .257 BA, .280 OBP, 16 K%, and 3 BB% in 553 plate appearances. Overall, I’d like to see OBP and BB% higher from someone considered a top prospect. The K% is the only stat that is impressive. In 553 plate appearances, he only struck out 86 times.

Conversely, the reason his OBP is low is due to the abysmal BB%. In those same 553 plate appearances, Garcia walked only 17 times. For a hitter projected to be a top of the order guy, those numbers don’t cut it. He has to show more ability to get on base and be a table-setter for the lineup. The chart below will show the monthly breakdown of these four stats.

Month BA OBP K% BB%
April .239 .268 19 4
May .198 .236 16.8 3.7
June .312 .333 12.2 3.5
July .257 .279 16 2.8
August .278 .288 15 1.6

As can be seen from the table, the last three months of the season were an improvement from an average and an on-base percentage standpoint. The strikeout and walk percentages didn’t show any noticeable changes. Making significant changes in the way a batter approaches each pitch is tough to accomplish amid a long season. A few more of those batted balls became hits, thus the improvement in BA and OBP.

After the regular season, the Nationals decided to send Garcia to the Arizona Fall League (AZL) with the Surprise Saguaros. During the brief time off, Garcia noted that he wanted to improve his approach to each pitch during the fall. By all accounts, he accomplished those goals. In 87 plate appearances for the Saguaros, he had a .276 BA, .345 OBP, 15 K%, and 9.2 BB%. In that small sample size, he was able to bring his strikeouts (13) more in line with his walks (8). As stated earlier, his K% has always been tremendous and that continued in the AZL. The increase in BB% is what impressed me the most as it showed a concerted effort to be more selective with pitches and take that walk if it was there. I think that if Garcia can maintain and even improve upon that number in the 2020 regular season, his prospect status will only rise. I’m not sure if we will see him in Washington this year, but a breakout season could push for him to be in consideration for the 2nd base job in 2021.


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