Ryan Sullivan: Garcia offers a glimpse at Nationals’ future

One of the many terrific events that occur during All-Star Game week is the Futures Game, an annual exhibition consisting of the top prospects in baseball. The Futures Game began in 1999 and the rosters consist of a team of prospects from the United States against a team of players from other countries. Major League Baseball, MLB.com and Baseball America decide the teams and the Nationals will be represented by infielders Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia on Sunday.

I wrote about Kieboom a few weeks ago in this space. His breakout season has continued since his promotion to Double-A Harrisburg, batting .338/.395/.486 in his first 18 games.

The lesser known of this dynamic duo, high Single-A Potomac shortstop Garcia, is having a breakout season himself. Washington signed Garcia as an international free agent in July 2016 for a reported $1.3 million bonus. One of the youngest, if not the youngest, player in the Futures Game, Garcia just turned 18 and began the season at low Single-A Hagerstown, hitting .297/.335/.402 in 78 games before forcing a promotion to Potomac earlier this month.

The son of a former major league player also named Luis Garcia, this Luis Garcia is a left-handed hitter who has seen time at shortstop, second base and third base this season. In the field he profiles best as a shortstop due to his excellent speed and solid arm, but could also be a quality defender at either second or third base. He projects as average defensively, but much like Steph Curry, offense is where Garcia makes his name.

Blessed with incredible hand-to-eye coordination and a preternatural knack for putting the barrel on the baseball, Garcia utilizes the whole field and peppers the gaps with line drives. He shows some power in batting practice, but like most teens, needs to gain strength as he matures. Garcia makes consistent, hard contact, leading scouts to believe he will hit more home runs in the future. Perhaps most impressive is his two-strike approach, where he widens his stance and chokes up on the bat in a deliberate effort to make contact.

Garcia has a ceiling of a .280-.300 hitter who hits 10-15 home runs per season. If he stays at shortstop, his offensive potential could make him a borderline All-Star type of player. As either a second or third baseman, he would likely fit better as a league-average contributor. He is unlikely to see more than one or two at-bats Sunday, but Garcia is a top five prospect in the Nationals farm system and presently one of the best pure hitters in the low minors. Seats are limited, so climb aboard the Garcia hype train before it sells out.

* If you cannot make it to the Futures Game, agent Joshua Kusnick and I are hosting a free live event Sunday beginning at 5 p.m. at Cleveland Park Bar and Grill. There will be food and drink specials plus a charity auction to benefit The Shepherd Foundation. Please join us for some baseball talk and to help a great cause.

Ryan Sullivan blogs about the Nationals at The Nats GM and runs The Nats GM Show podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @NatsGMdotcom. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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