10/20/12 9:44 PM ET
Tigers developing Garcia at big league level
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
The gap between Minor League and Major League baseball is so vast, most prospects never make it to the Major Leagues.
Those who are promoted to the parent club have endured their organization's instruction and evaluation process. Each club has its own standards for evaluating and reaching conclusions regarding player progress.
Of course, much depends upon the age and experience of the prospect.
Generally speaking, the development process requires repetition.
For hitters, the more at-bats against increasingly better quality pitching, the better. Conversely, extensive innings pitched at the Minor League level readies pitchers for better offensive competition.
A club's financial investment and/or the club's contractual commitments to a player also help to dictate the player's path to the Major League club.
A crucial component to a player's potential for promotion is the organizational depth at the player's position.
For example, a team may have a number of high-quality catchers, but most may hit right-handed. As a consequence, a left-handed hitting catcher might be moved along in the organization more quickly and with more urgency.
The Detroit Tigers 21-year-old right fielder Avisail Garcia has benefited from having the right skills at the right time to fit his team's needs.
The right-handed hitting, solidly built Garcia came to the Tigers as an international free agent from Venezuela in 2007.
Prior to his August promotion, Garcia played parts of five seasons in the Tigers Minor League system. He has had a total of 2138 plate appearances in 523 games. With the exception of Triple-A, Garcia has played in every classification in the Tigers organization.
During his Minor League days, Garcia had a composite batting average of .281. He has hit 37 home runs and he has walked only 79 times. That number is significant. It's a part of his game that needs improvement. He has struck out 451 times.
The Tigers' season began with left-handed hitter Brennan Boesch playing right field.
After a slow start in 2011, Boesch hit a very respectable .283 in 472 plate appearances. The club counted on a repeat, but it didn't happen.
Boesch finished this season hitting .240. He scuffled in the second half. In the midst of a pennant race, his struggles led the Tigers to search for a different option in right field.
That's why the Tigers turned to Garcia. He was called upon to add a quality bat to an offense in need of an additional spark.
Garcia was hitting well at a time his club greatly needed his bat. At Double-A Erie, Garcia was hitting .312 with 6 home runs and 22 RBIs.
Since his call to Detroit, his presence has paid dividends for his parent club.
In the midst of the pennant race, Garcia and left-handed hitter Andy Dirks served as a very significant platoon in manager Jim Leyland's lineups.
Garcia started 11 games for Detroit this past season. He hit against left-handed starters in all of them. He hit .324 against those starting pitchers and .319 overall.
In his 51 late season plate appearances, Garcia had 15 hits. All were singles. He also walked 3 times.
From a skills perspective, Garcia is a complete player.
He's a very talented and very agile athlete -- especially for a man his size. Garcia is 6 feet 4 and 240 pounds, and at only 21 years old, may very well continue to add weight, muscle and strength. If that happens, his current raw power will convert to actualized home run power. It may just be a matter of time until he can become a middle of the order power hitter.
Garcia has the ability to hit for average, run well, play exceptional defense and throw with good carry, strength and accuracy. His only underdeveloped tool is home run power. However, he has the ability to hit the gaps at this early stage of his career.
Garcia has a very level swing. To date, he has gotten little loft on the ball. However, that's a good thing. He hasn't lengthened his swing or become overly aggressive. While he has a good eye at the plate, as I noted before, he doesn't accept enough walks. He goes to the plate swinging.
Garcia is reputed to have the most advanced, most accurate and best overall (position player) throwing arm in the Tigers organization.
There are those who say that Garcia is a clone of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. To be sure, there are numerous similarities.
Some call Garcia "Little Miggy." It must be flattering to a player who has looked up to Cabrera as his baseball idol.
Cabrera and Garcia are the same size and weight. Of course, that is likely to change, as Garcia is eight years younger. They are both from Venezuela. They physically resemble each other.
While it's wonderful that many compare Garcia to Cabrera, the comparison can't yet include hitting ability.
Can Garcia become as good as Cabrera? Time will tell.
When he was very young, scouts said Cabrera would be as good a hitter some day as Manny Ramirez. Obviously, that day has come.
For now, Garcia may be more comparable to Delmon Young, himself a major contributor to the Tigers' Postseason efforts.
I like the future of Avisail Garcia. There is no certainty he will begin next season on the Tigers' roster. He may return to the Minor Leagues for further development.
The Tigers realize they have a potentially impactful bat ready and waiting to contribute. The development process will continue.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.