Alcides Escobar fouled a pitch off his knee in an August thirtieth matchup in opposition to the Philadelphia Phillies this previous summer season, so Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez determined to shift Luis García over to shortstop for the remainder of that recreation, which García began at second, and the supervisor was requested the subsequent day how he evaluated the 21-year-old infielder at every of the positions at this level in his profession.
García, signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3M in 2016, has performed predominantly at brief in the minors on the method up, however with Trea Turner at brief in the majors till this previous July’s commerce to the Dodgers, the younger infielder performed largely second base when he got here up after Starlin Castro suffered an damage in the 60-game season in 2020.
García spent most of the 2021 marketing campaign at second base, shifting up and down between Triple-A and the majors earlier than the commerce deadline, then performed second, for the most half, after the July thirtieth sell-off kicked off the organizational reboot in D.C., with Alcides Escobar, who re-signed with the membership this winter, after he was acquired from the Kansas City Royals in the early days of July final summer season, enjoying brief down the stretch.
“He got here up as a shortstop,” Martinez advised reporters in speaking about García in a pregame Zoom name this previous August thirty first.
“My largest factor — he strikes round fairly good over there — my largest factor with him is his throwing from shortstop. He’s received a robust sufficient arm, clearly, however he will get a little bit erratic. His arm angle modifications periodically. So it’s one thing that we started working with him over there, and to remain in his legs a little bit bit higher. He throws the ball and he by no means finishes, by no means goes in direction of his goal the place he’s throwing. He doesn’t use his legs.”
Martinez mentioned his bench (and infield) coach Tim Bogar had been working intently with García to enhance on the areas the place they thought he wanted assist, with the largest subject at brief and second his footwork.
“The largest subject with Luis at each second and at brief, is his toes, and persevering with to maneuver his toes,” the supervisor defined.
“His toes started working,” Martinez added, “… and like I mentioned, it’s a course of that we’ve talked to him about, we’re going to proceed to work with him, however he’s received to proceed to make use of his toes, and when he does that he’s actually good. And he understands it, and it’s only a behavior, and we’ve received to interrupt him out of that behavior, and we received to get him to make use of his toes all the time.”
Just a few weeks later, the skipper talked about the place García was in phrases his growth at the plate as effectively, the place he mentioned he’d seen enchancment, however nonetheless noticed room for development.
García put up a .242/.275/.411 line with 18 doubles, two triples, six house runs, 11 walks, and 43 Ks in 70 video games and 247 plate appearances in the majors this previous season, after he put a .276/.302/.366 line, six doubles, two homers, 5 walks, and 29 Ks up in 40 video games and 139 PAs in 2020.
“It’s all about his pitch choice when he swings,” Martinez mentioned. “He’s received to get the ball in the zone. When he will get the ball in the zone, he hits the ball actually onerous. He’s received to remain on the ball. I discuss loads to him about utilizing the center of the area. He’s actually good when he does that, and that’s one thing that he must work on.”
Elevating the risk that García might proceed his work in winter ball, Martinez mentioned, “… if he does that I actually need him to discover ways to keep on the ball, and hit the ball up the center of the area, and take pitches, and swing at strikes. That’s the largest factor, is swing at strikes. We want him to get on base a little bit bit extra, by way of walks, we don’t need him to lose his aggressiveness, however we wish him to take his walks, and he’s actually a high-ball hitter, very effectively, so we wish him to get the ball up the place he can drive the ball, that’s one thing that he can work on as effectively.”
Contemplating the place he’s at in his profession, age-wise, and skill-wise, Martinez mentioned, García nonetheless has loads to be taught, however he’s additionally tremendously gifted.
“He’s nonetheless studying,” García’s supervisor mentioned, “he’s received great upside and we all know that.
“However but, he handles himself pretty effectively.”
“I do know he needs to get faster along with his toes, and he needs to work out, but it surely’s all about growth, and the extra he performs, the higher he’s going to be.”
GM Mike Rizzo, speaking to reporters on the remaining day of the common season in October, mentioned García will go to Spring Coaching this 12 months with a chance to earn the second base job in D.C.
“I believe that he’ll have each alternative to be our on a regular basis second baseman, he’s younger participant, he’s received nice bat pace, and he’s received good energy,” Rizzo mentioned.
“He’s made some spotlight performs, and he’s had some focus lapses. He’s 21 years outdated, I had some focus lapses at 21, so we’re going to offer him a break about that, however he’s a terrific younger expertise, and we simply need to put our arms round him and simply be affected person. Like a variety of younger gamers.”
They did carry in some veterans too, nevertheless, with Escobar re-signing a number of days after the season ended, and veteran infielder César Hernández signing a 1-year/$4M deal late in the month of November, prompting hypothesis at the time about how the membership’s infield would shake out in 2022, since Hernández has performed the majority of his video games at second base in his profession.
“García has ample minor league expertise at shortstop and might conceivably sit back throughout the bag to accommodate Hernández whereas relegating Escobar to a utility position,” certainly one of the writers at MLBTraderumors.com prompt. Will García begin at second (supplied he doesn’t wrestle this spring and begin in the minors) on the rebuilding ballclub and be taught on the job in the majors? Was Hernández signed as insurance coverage, a starter, or a utility man (since he has performed second, third, and brief (in addition to the outfield) in his profession)?