The Wilmington Blue Rocks roster has changed so much in the second half and alot of that movement has led to some growing pains (they just won their 21st game last night). Though he came up in May, the promotion that has impressed me the most has been Carlos Garcia.
Thrust into the leadoff spot of a struggling offense, Garcia has excelled, especially in the second half (though he is just 1-for-11 since his ten-game hitting streak came to an end). He is one of the only hitters in their lineup that makes adjustments at the plate throughout the game.
This past Saturday (August 22nd), he delivered a two-run single in the 3rd inning and the at-bat epitomizes why I like him. “It was a changeup,” Garcia said after the game. “It was the first time I saw that pitch in the game. I was kind of off-balance, but I was trying to keep it to the middle of the field. I knew he [Salem starter Kevin McAvoy] was throwing alot of sinkers and now I saw the changeup. I was trying to not do too much and put the ball in play.”
Of the 69 games Garcia has played for the Blue Rocks, 65 have come with him batting leadoff, where he has hit .277. “I like leadoff,” he said. “That’s the role I’m going to have someday playing in the big leagues. I’m not going to be like those kind of hitters like [Ryan] O’Hearn or Mauricio [Ramos] that hit the ball in the gap and hit alot of home runs. I’ve been getting used to it. To see a couple pitches during each at-bat and trying to help my teammates and let them know what kind of pitcher we’re facing that game.”
In the second half, he is hitting .293 with 14 of his 18 stolen bases. He also has six doubles and five triples in the second half.
I asked Garcia about the art of stealing a base. “I’m lucky here. We have a great staff. We have alot of experienced staff that played in the big leagues, so I talk to them before the game and know what kind of pitcher we’re facing that night and what the key is to try and steal a base. Just trying to be smart on the bases.”
If he had enough at-bats, his overall .284 batting average would rank him fourth in the Carolina League (third if you eliminate Luigi Rodriguez, who is serving an 80-game suspension). In 69 games (271 at-bats), he has hit ten doubles, eight triples, and one home run. Garcia has scored 34 runs and driven in 25. He has walked 26 times compared to 47 strikeouts and has an on-base percentage of .354.
The one thing that Garcia has struggled at has been switch-hitting. He doesn’t have as many at-bats against lefties (59), but he is hitting just .186. Against right-handers (in 212 ABs), he it hitting .311.
Garcia has split time between second base (41 games) and as the DH (28 games). “Each game, I’m trying to focus on the role I’m going to be in that game,” Garcia said. “I catch a few more ground balls in practice if I’m playing second base that night. Basically, it’s come to the ballpark and do the same thing that I do every day and keep working hard…I prefer second base.”
I also asked Garcia about any adjustments he has made since his promotion from Low-A Lexington. “It”s a different ballpark. Basically, I have to do the same thing. The ball doesn’t fly like in Lexington. We have a really big stadium here. I have to try and put the ball on the ground and put the ball in play. And let Mauricio and O’Hearn do their job.”
Hopefully Garcia can keep getting on base for the Blue Rocks middle of the order as they close out the second half and head into the Carolina League playoffs.