While the Nationals were an early rainout due to inclement weather forecasted for their series opener against the Diamondbacks, there was some news in the minor league system on Monday.
Luis García was named the International League Player of the Week for the week of April 11-17.
Optioned to Triple-A Rochester during the last week of spring training, García has been on a tear to start the season for the Red Wings. Over six games last week, the 21-year-old went 14-for-27 for a .519 batting average and 1.370 OPS while recording five extra-base hits, five RBIs and nine runs scored.
He's slashing .377/.411/.623 with an 1.034 OPS, two home runs, seven RBIs and three walks over 12 games to start the season at Rochester. In the field, he has played 10 games at shortstop (where he has committed four errors) and two games at second base.
In 110 career big league games between 2020-21, García slashed .254/.285/.395 with a .680 OPS, 24 doubles, two triples, six homers, 22 RBIs and 11 walks.
At the big league level, the Nationals haven’t received a lot of production from their middle infielders. Second baseman César Hernández, primarily their leadoff hitter, is slashing just .250/.280/.250 through 50 plate appearances over the first 11 games and shortstop Alcides Escobar is slashing .156/.229/.188 through 35 plate appearances over nine games. Backup infielder Lucius Fox, 24, is hitless with an RBI, a run scored and four strikeouts in seven plate appearances over two games.
While the rainout Monday gives the Nationals a much-needed break during a scheduled 18-day stretch to start the season, Tuesday’s doubleheader presents a challenge for the pitching staff.
Each game of the twinbill will be nine innings, at least, instead of the seven-inning doubleheader games we saw in 2020-21. More outs for pitchers to cover.
So although García has played well enough out of the gate to perhaps earn a promotion from Triple-A, and although the Nationals’ middle infielders are struggling to start the season, expect the club to bring up a pitcher as their extra 29th player for Tuesday’s doubleheader.
That doesn’t mean García won’t be up in D.C. sooner rather than later. If he continues this dominance at the Triple-A level, he might force the Nats’ hand.
Rochester is 7-5 and in third place in the International League East division to start the season.
Further down the farm system, first baseman Leandro Emiliani was named the Carolina League Player of the Week at low Single-A Fredericksburg. The 22-year-old only played three games last week but went 6-for-12 (.500) with a 1.738 OPS and four RBIs. Only one of his hits was a single, with three doubles, one triple and one home run accounting for the others. He also walked once and was hit by a pitch once.
In five games this season, Emiliani is slashing .368/.429/.789 with a 1.218 OPS, seven hits, three doubles, one triple, one homer, five RBIs and one walk.
The FredNats are 6-3 and in second place in the Carolina League North division so far this season.