Garcia Still Rolling in the AZL

20 Yr-Old Garcia in 2nd Pro Season

As the Reds ponder their future at leadoff down at the bottom of their pipeline is 20 year-old Kevin Garcia who is ready to advance up the pipeline after hitting .330 in the Arizona League this season.

The AZL Reds took a six-run lead after three innings and held on for a 7-4 win over the AZL Dodgers. They crossed the plate in the first when Kevin Garcia led off with a double and scored on a groundout. Three more were plated in the second from an Aldi Guzman homer. A couple more insurance runs were added in the third from an error and wild pitch before Garcia doubled again in the sixth and scored on another groundout to cap off his team's scoring.

Garcia once again did his job leading off by going 2-3 with a walk and two runs. Kevin Franklin led the Reds with three hits while Dalton Carter added a couple of singles. On the mound Mark Armstrong made his second appearance by tossing a couple of shutout innings to start the game, allowing one hit. Tyler Mahle got the win for relieving him with three perfect innings including five strikeouts.

With only one game left on the AZL Reds schedule Garcia is sitting on a.330 batting average with an on-base percentage near .400. The gaudy average has also raised his slugging percentage up close to .500. He's a 6'1"/177# right-hander that turned twenty years old this past June. His production is an increase over his .264/.378 OB he put up for the Reds' affiliate in the Dominican League last season after they signed him as a free agent out of Venezuela.

At the plate he's keeping a decent walk rate (8.3% of PA) which provides the average AVG/OB differential. That will be fine if he can maintain the .330 average as he advances-most players don't. There's reason to believe that his selectivity will improve further because in his first season he walked almost 14% of the times he stepped into the batter's box. He's also making good contact, striking out around 12% of the time. On the base paths he's not stolen many bases and has been successful in 12 of 20 attempts. That's a part of his game he can continue to develop as he progresses, but his opportunities have been reduced because almost one third of his hits have gone for extra bases.

In the field all of his action has been in the outfield, mostly left and center. While in the middle he's running down almost two putouts per game and wouldn't need much improvement to bring that up to a rate that is satisfactory for the position. There's not a lot of information available on most of the foreign prospects so his arm strength is unknown, but he did gun down three base runners in eleven games he played in right field.

Last year foreign prospect Jonathan Reynoso got attention by cracking .300 after moving stateside to Arizona. This year he's run into some challenges at Billings. Garcia's production this season makes it easy to get excited about his chances of becoming a leadoff hitter in the future and he might even be a candidate to skip over the Pioneer League and start a full season at Dayton in 2014.

There are a lot of things to like about this prospect. He's young, can handle a bat, and knows the way to first base. The current leadoff situation for Cincinnati is uncertain as Shin-soo Choo nears the end of his contract and Billy Hamilton is going through a learning curve at Louisville. Garcia is nowhere near putting his name into the mix, but that could change in a couple of years. He's certainly on track right now and the Reds are likely very eager to see how well he performs against higher level competition next season.

Other Organizational News:

The Reds dropped another game at St. Louis by a score of 6-1. The Cardinals jumped on starter Mat Latos in the first inning and hung a loss on him by scoring four runs before he was lifted two batters into the seventh inning. The big right-hander tried to help himself with two hits at the plate. Shin-Soo Choo also had a couple of hits including a home run that led off the fifth inning and cut a then-two-run deficit in half.

Louisville was shut out in a 3-0 loss to visiting Columbus. The Bats were limited to two hits in the game without a walk. Pedro Villarreal got the start and the loss for allowing one run in the first four innings. Kevin Whelan relieved him with two scoreless frames.

Pensacola tied their game with three runs in the sixth inning before losing 5-4 to visiting Birmingham. Ray Chang had a couple of doubles and an RBI for the Wahoos while Devin Lohman finished with two hits, an RBI, and a run scored. The rally took Robert Stephenson off the hook after he allowed four runs off seven hits/five walks in four-plus innings. Chris Manno took the loss for allowing one run in two-plus frames.

Bakersfield took a lead in the first inning, but lost 3-1 at home against Stockton. Kyle Waldrop had two of the five Blaze hits while Juan Silverio provided their only run with a solo homer. Jake Johnson took the loss for allowing three runs in the first five-plus innings. Three Bakersfield relievers combined for three and two-thirds scoreless frames.

Dayton was idle and will resume their schedule at Great Lakes on Thursday.

Billings took a four-run lead after two innings and held on for a 6-4 win over visiting Ogden. Carlos Sanchez started their scoring with a two-run home run in the first. Jose Ortiz led off the next inning with a double and scored from a single by Nick Benedetto who later crossed the plate on a groundout. The Mustangs added insurance that would be needed in the eighth when Gabriel Rosa led off with a homer that was followed by an Aristides Aquino triple who later scored on a sac fly. Austin Salter started the game with three scoreless innings, but did not stay on the mound long enough to qualify for the win. That went to Zack Weiss who allowed one run over three frames. Joe Mantoni allowed one run while throwing the final one and two-thirds innings which was good enough for the save.

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