As you know, it’s mock draft season. It’s a time to be friendly with our fantasy drafts. Often, we’ll openly discuss how we view certain players or why we’re building a fake roster in a specific way. That extends to congratulating others on “good” picks. Avisail Garcia is one player who always garners a pat on the back. If you can’t tell, I don’t understand the love. I’d like to. I’m open to hearing explanations.
When I ask my fellow experts, most will point to the eye test. I’m currently between MLB.tv subscriptions, so we’ll have to do without any GIFs. I’ve dug up an old scouting video from 2011 and a light tower blast from 2013. The former is perhaps too old to be informative. He looks like a guy who isn’t ready for Double-A. Lo and behold, he was in High-A at the time. He’s definitely improved since then. As for the home run, (almost) everybody looks good when belting one deep.
The White Sox were low on my list of teams to watch last season, but I’m sure I caught at least 10 of Garcia’s starts. What I saw left me wondering about him as a player. There is certainly potential for the light to go on – like with J.D. Martinez. He had to make a mechanical adjustment to tap into his full potential. Garcia has a different problem – pitch recognition.
Many pundits consider pitch recognition to be teachable. Good, right? Anyone who has watched Ryan Howard for the last 10 years knows that not everybody can learn. Garcia swings at pitches inside and out of the zone about 10 percent more often than league average. It contributes to his career 16.4 percent whiff rate. Aggression is also a solution to an extremely high whiff rate. By swinging often, he kept his strikeout rate down to a manageable 23 percent last season. Chris Carter posts similar whiff rates, and he strikes out over 30 percent of the time.
For me, the eye test Garcia passes is the same one passed by Wily Mo Pena. The power is real and anybody can spontaneously improve. We’re left with questions. Is there a specific reason to expect a breakout, or are we just hoping? Can he hit enough to make up for heaps of strikeouts? Will his role in the lineup support strong counting stats?
It’s that first question that has me hung up. I can’t identify a reason why he’s more likely to breakout than say Domonic Brown or Nick Castellanos. Garcia is young, and he has an obvious tool. He’s also never hit more than 14 home runs in a season, and that was split between High-A and Double-A. When I talk to other experts, I hear a lot of hope and very little evidence.
When it comes time to make a draft pick, I’ll be leaving Garcia to my fellows. There is value in playing a few long shots late in the draft, which is right where Garcia fits in my book. His current ADP is 220, so you can target him in rounds 16 to 20 in a 12 team draft. I see too much viable talent around him to take the leap. Steve Pearce, Brandon Belt, Aramis Ramirez, and Chase Utley all have similar ADPs (to name a few).
I wish I had a reason to pick Garcia. I can’t find one.
You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam