Luis Garcia made waves during his first year in the Phillies system, but a weak full-season debut removed him from Top 100 prospect status.
When the Phillies have a highly-touted prospect who succeeds in the Gulf Coast League, they often push them up to Low-A Lakewood the next year, skipping over short-season Williamsport to make their full-season debut as a teenager. Mickey Moniak did that in 2017, and shortstop Luis Garcia followed suit this year.
Garcia signed during the July 2017 signing period, earning the fifth-highest bonus that year. He made a stellar debut in the GCL last year, finishing with the best batting average and third-best on-base percentage. He put up a ridiculous .369/.433/.488 line while striking out in just 11.2% of his plate appearances. Considering he did this while being 2.7 years younger than the league average, there was reason to be optimistic.
The team aggressively assigned Garcia to Lakewood to start the year, a bold move for an 18-year-old in his second professional season. He was 3.5 years younger than the average player in the South Atlantic League.
More from That Balls Outta Here
Considering the age gap between Garcia and the rest of the league, it’s no surprise that he struggled this year. He posted a dismal .186/.261/.255 line, striking out 132 times in 524 plate appearances. His 55 wRC+ was the worst in the SAL and second-worst in Low-A this season among qualified hitters. Garcia’s struggles validated concerns about his ability to make an impact at the plate at the major-league level.
Garcia was simply overmatched in his full-season debut, just like Moniak was two years ago. Despite his poor season, Moniak was still promoted to High-A Clearwater the next year, where he continued to struggle.
It will be interesting to see where Garcia starts next season after struggling so much. He will be 19 years old the entire minor-league season.
Before this season, Garcia was ranked the No. 88 overall prospect in baseball by Baseball America. Now he isn’t even ranked following their postseason update (subscription required). Garcia was in the argument as the best prospect in the system heading into the year, but BA ranked him No. 9 overall at midseason and he’ll probably drop even further in their offseason Top 30.
Garcia will need a major turnaround next year to re-enter the top prospect conversation. Hopefully, he gets a chance to test Low-A again and get better results. If he still can’t find his swing there, he will drop completely out of relevance.