If it seems like we’re hearing a lot of stuff about Jose Garcia lately, it’s probably because we are. The 22-year-old shortstop from Cuba continues to impress. On Tuesday in his daily press conference with the media, manager David Bell was again asked about the infielder and catcher Tyler Stephenson – both of whom seem to have been over to Great American Ballpark a little more than some others from the Prasco Park group.
“You mentioned Tyler and Jose Garcia both – I would put them in maybe a different category than maybe Christian Colon, who we love, we believe he will help our team this year if he doesn’t make the opening day roster, which he still has an opportunity to make,” said Bell. “The reasons for that are because he’s an established veteran, has great experience on winning teams, just a really good ballplayer that has proven that for years. He brings a lot to the table from a character standpoint as a teammate.”
This makes sense, particularly in a comparison to a guy like Colon. Garcia and Stephenson probably aren’t coming up to sit on the bench and not play much, and to be there as a pinch hitter in a specific situation. They are guys who are likely to be at Prasco Park, playing every day in whatever manner that group eventually gets to play as once the regular season begins, and would come up if they were going to play frequently for one reason or another at either the middle infield spot for Garcia, or behind the plate for Stephenson.
“Just to compare, Jose Garcia is an exciting young prospect that is coming on fast and we want to see him as much as we can,” Bell said. “He has never played above A-ball, but because he’s coming on so strong he’s putting himself in a position where he could contribute as early as this year. So we need to get him around the Major League atmosphere as much as possible.”
I was on the Reds Alert Podcast with Steven Offenbaker last night and spoke a bit about Jose Garcia and potentially making the jump from A-ball to the Majors. It isn’t something that you see very often – guys just don’t jump over Double-A and Triple-A these days, for more than a few reasons. But as I noted on the podcast, it’s not quite the same as if a guy ended last season in A-ball then made the Major Leagues in late March out of spring training.
Unless Jose Garcia were to make the team for Opening Day, he’s going to be playing at Prasco Park. While we aren’t going to be getting stats or having video come out of there, those guys are going to be playing. And it’s going to be guys who would have been in Double-A, Triple-A, and even the Major Leagues at times in 2020. We won’t be able to look back at Baseball-Reference and see that Garcia was playing there in the future, but he’s going to have that experience and time.
In a normal year, he would have began the season in Double-A. If he had a strong first half, he may have been in Triple-A right now. Making the jump to the Majors in that scenario is not unheard of at all and it happens around Major League Baseball every year. 2020 makes things weird. While you would like to have a more structured situation for guys who would be in the minors this year, they were all playing games (in the Reds organization) starting in February. Before spring training ended, Garcia had played in 13 games. Since the start of July and the scrimmages began, he’s played in another handful – I believe it’s five at this point. And he’ll probably be in another five before the season begins. After that he will likely head to Prasco Park and play every day there.
He, and the other guys are going to have that experience, that game time under their belts. It’s not traditional, but it’s there. And in some ways it may be better than what would have happened had it taken place on the fields in Chattanooga, Pensacola, Jackson, Birmingham, Biloxi, or Jacksonville while working their way through Double-A this summer.