Teenager Garcia adding strength and defensive skill to hitting prowess

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Shortstop Luis Garcia has done a nice job in 15 games with the Nationals this spring training, slashing .316/.381/.316 with six hits, seven runs scored and two RBIs. Garcia, 18, is currently listed as the No. 3 rated prospect in the Nats system, according to MLB Pipeline.

Director of player development Mark Scialabba said his hitting skills have been apparent since the Nats signed the youngster in July 2016. He said it’s only a matter of time before Garcia adds power to his hitting ability as he grows into his 6-foot, 190-lb. frame.

Luis-Garcia-Futures-Game-sidebar.jpg“His bat-to-ball instincts are off the charts,” Scialabba said. “He is someone who has a knack for hitting and makes adjustments. He is still learning the strike zone. He will see better pitching this year. That will be the next part of the progression: seeing tougher lefties, seeing tougher curveballs and sliders, and learning how to stay off those. But he has a really good two-strike approach, stays in the middle of the field, contact oriented hitter right now. I think the power will play up as he gets older and bigger and stronger. He’s still a young man.

“Defensively, he’s naturally a shortstop and getting exposure to all the different spots in the infield: second, third and short. Primarily will play short and certainly capable of playing the other spots as well.”

With his bat showing well, Garcia is looking to become more consistent defensively at shortstop this season. Scialabba said that will happen with Garcia getting bigger physically. As he grows into his body, Garcia will continue to gain valuable experience working with the Nats’ minor league field coordinators.

“It’s an evolution. He’s really young,” Scialabba said. “We are still building the foundation. He will become more efficient and more consistent with the work that he is going to put in with our staff. His arm strength will play. His footwork is continuing to improve. He’s still growing into his body.”

Scialabba said he can already notice a difference in Garcia as he fills out, adding height and muscle.

“He grew another inch or two this off season,” Scialabba said. “He’s still filling out. He’s going to get stronger and hopefully quicker and more flexible and be able to cover a lot of ground. But he was a plus runner when he was signed and we hope that he continues to showcase those quick twitch actions.”

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