30 Stolen Bases
Apr 12, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia (26) steals second base as Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) takes the throw during the eighth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
In the words of White Sox announcer “Hawk” Harrelson, this feels like a “stretch.”
Garcia has solid raw speed. At the moment, it is probably on the periphery of “plus”, as you can see his speed play well in the outfield and generally on the base paths (running down the line, moving from first-to-third, etc.), but it hasn’t translated to many stolen bases, and after all, that’s what we’re looking at here.
Back in 2012, Baseball Prospectus’ Hudson Belinsky wrote this:
"“His body’s development will affect his speed, and he’ll probably be a 40 runner down the line, but in his youth he could be an all-around monster.”"
A 40-grade runner is actually below average and I can’t argue that Garcia may hit this projection once he fills out even further. In fact, we already saw this happening towards the end of last season when he didn’t look as fleet-of-foot on the base paths as he had in his first stint on the South Side.
Garcia trimmed down this offseason in an attempt to flash more of his natural athleticism and he’s passed the “eye test” thus far in 2015.
Garcia’s plus-speed hasn’t translated into many stolen bases so far in his young career.
Again though, Garcia’s speed has never lent itself to consistent steals. His best output was 20 swiped bags in A-ball with the Tigers in 2010. That was 2010, when Garcia was even younger than he is now.
Of course, it’s also a matter of approach and the White Sox are confident that Vince Coleman can refine the base stealing strategy of all Chicago speedsters and not just Garcia.
Apr 14, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) is congratulated by Chicago White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia (26) after hitting a solo home run against the Cleveland Indians during the fifth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
So far Garcia has one steal on the year and has been caught stealing three times, so his approach is clearly still in the refinement stage. It’s not hard to envision a scenario where Garcia could swipe 15-20 bags with a consistent approach and it’s all about timing.
Getting a better jump on the ball could make Garcia’s speed play up to the point that 30 steals seems less like a fantasy, but that entails him actually acquiring a proficient reception of a pitcher’s movement towards home plate.
That’s easier said than done.
If there’s an unofficial timeline for Garcia to convert on this coveted 30/30 ceiling then it will likely happen sooner than later because expecting 30 steals out of a 30 year-old Avisail Garcia is like expecting 30-plus home runs from Adam Eaton.
Next: Garcia: 30 home runs