BBB Top Prospect Countdown #8: Wilkerman Garcia

Yankees farmhand Jorge Mateo has received plenty of hype from scouts and Yankees fans alike, as many believe he is the team’s top prospect and shortstop of the future. Unfortunately for Mateo, he may have some tough competition in his road to playing up the middle in the Bronx. At just 17-years old, switch-hitting shortstop Wilkerman Garcia is not as far in his development as the 20-year old Mateo, but some people around the game believe that Garcia has a higher upside. In fact, John Sickels of minorleagueball.com opines that Garcia could plausibly jump up as the Yankees top prospect within the next 12 months.
Breakdown
In 2014, the Yankees signed Garcia as an international free agent out of Venezuela when he was 16-years old. He signed for $1.35 million on July 2nd, and reported to the team’s complex in Tampa, FL for the Florida Instruction League that September. Garcia immediately received praise from instructors for his instincts and skill set on both sides of the field, and was assigned to the Dominican Summer League Yankees in 2015 to start his professional baseball career.

After a very brief stint in the Dominican Summer League, Garcia was promoted to the Gulf Coast League (rookie-ball) where he shined. In 37 games, Garcia hit .281 and got on base at a spectacular .396 clip over 121 at-bats. Perhaps the most impressive statistic Garcia put up in his 2015 campaign is that he only struck out 19 times over 158 plate appearances — good for just 12% of his PA’s. Several scouts have cited his quick bat-speed and sharp eye at the plate as the reason behind his ability to keep strikeouts to a minimum. Garcia’s impressive first year didn’t go unnoticed, as Baseball America named him the sixth best prospect in the Gulf Coast League in 2016.

Projection
Along with the fact that he is just 17-years of age, Garcia’s limited sample size in professional baseball makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly where he ceiling is, or how quickly he can be expected to reach the majors. But fortunately for Yankees fans, the Venezuela-native is certainly on the right track

He is the complete package up the middle, with some of the smoothest hands you'll see from a 17-year old, and the arm and range to stick at short for the long haul,” said Jeffrey Paternostro of Baseball Prospectus. “Garcia is still raw at the plate, but he's a switch-hitter with some feel for the barrel from both sides.”
Photo Via Bronx Baseball Daily
Garcia will grow into his body within the next few years, and this growth will likely lead to an increase in his power at the plate. 2016 will be an important year for Garcia, as he will begin his ascent through the Yankees minor league levels. Due to the depth of middle infielders the Yankees have in the lower minors, Yankee fans can expect to see Garcia begin the season in extended spring training. As the season progresses, Garcia will likely find himself as the starting shortstop for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League. According to Paternostro, Garcia would be facing a lot of college-level pitching in the New York-Penn League, and a strong showing would thrust him into the national conversation as one of the games best shortstop prospects.

So who do you think is the Yankees shortstop of the future — Garcia or Mateo? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.

MLB Comparison: Francisco Lindor (Cleveland)
You can view his minor league statistics HERE
You can keep up with our full top 30 list with links to our breakdowns HERE.

Article by: Sammy Criscitello
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