When the Chicago White Sox traded pitcher Jake Peavy at the 2013 trade deadline, they thought they were getting a prized prospect in young outfielder Avisail Garcia who was affectionately called “Little Miggy” after Tigers’ star Miguel Cabrera. Garcia’s season, much like the team’s as a whole, has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.
Garcia has started 116 of his 124 games this season in right field. While out there, he has racked up 16 outfield assists which actually leads the majors. I say “actually” because some fans and critics question if he can really be an everyday fielder and not a defensive liability. At some points, Garcia’s positioning and I’ll call it “knack” for the position seems to be absent.
One notable example that comes to mind is the August 21st game against the Seattle Mariners. The first batter of the game, Ketel Marte, hit a sharp line drive to right, right into the glove of Garcia, however that is not where the ball ended up. Many would say that was an error and yet the official scorer ruled it a hit. While Garcia has had some spectacular home-run robbing catches such as on July 4th against the Baltimore Orioles and another in a series against the New York Yankees, I do not believe he is a reliable, everyday outfielder.
As for Garcia’s abilities at the plate, I believe he is still underwhelming both the fans and himself. Just looking at him, anyone could tell he could hit the ball a long way but that has not been the case much at all this year. Garcia has only hit 12 home runs this year while batting in the middle of the order. This production simply will not get it done from a hitter who is supposed to be in that section of the lineup.
From what I’ve noticed throughout this year, Garcia has had trouble turning on inside pitches, namely fastballs. For whatever reason, he cannot seem to get the bat around quickly enough and that has led to 179 ground balls, more than his 90 fly balls and 86 line drives combined.
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To me, for a guy hitting cleanup and who is expected to hit balls out of the park that is unacceptable. I want clutch home runs and line drives, not groundballs to the left side of the infield. I love his ability as a hitter and he has shown flashes of his true potential but I believe another full offseason of working on pulling the ball will really push Garcia to that next level and make him a truly dangerous hitter behind Jose Abreu.
So what does all this mean for the young 24 year old outfielder? Well, like I just stated, he’s only 24 years old. There is still plenty of time for him to develop his talents more and I really do love his bat in the lineup. Although he is only hitting for a .266 average right now, I believe if he worked on pulling inside pitches and putting a good bat on them, he could develop into a solid threat behind Abreu for the foreseeable future of the White Sox.
The numbers, outside of the home runs, are solid as well. A .309 average in March/April and a .333 average in May according to FanGraphs is welcome on any major league roster; the .181 average for June is the only blemish. Garcia’s fielding also needs some major work but if his bat can more than make up for his abilities in the outfield then I will gladly take that tradeoff.
I believe Garcia still has more of his true potential to show and I hope the organization gives him that opportunity. I just really hope Garcia can turn into the player the fans and I hope he can be.
What do you think White Sox fans? How do you see Garcia’s future with the team?