Although there have been many storylines throughout the playoffs, one that may not be getting enough play is that the Detroit Tigers have handed over playing time to 21-year-old Avisail Garcia. Consider: he began this season in the Florida State League and played just 55 games at Double-A Erie. The Tigers called him up to the big leagues on August 31, making him eligible to compete in the post season.
Garcia has just three hits in 12 at bats this postseason, but he has driven in three pretty important runs. He has one RBI in each of the games against the Yankees.
He is starting in right field against left-handed pitchers, like Andy Pettitte in Game 1 of the ALCS. With a righty on the mound for the Yankees in Game 2 (Hiroki Kuroda), Quinton Berry got the start, but when the Bombers went to lefty Boone Logan later in the game with the game at hand, Garcia came through with a pinch-hit RBI single.
There are similarities between Garcia and the Tigers Triple Crown man, Miguel Cabrera. Garcia is listed at 6-4 and 240 pounds. Cabrera is listed at 6-4 and 240 pounds. Their batting stances are very similar as are their mannerisms in the batter’s box. Hey, if there is a hitter that a kid from a small town in Venezuela should emulate (on the field only!), it certainly would be Cabrera.
As I see Garcia playing and contributing to this Tigers playoff run, I can’t help but also see similarities between Asivail Garcia and the Twins prospect Oswaldo Arcia. Like Garcia, the 21-year-old Arcia started the season in the Florida State League before moving up to the Eastern League for the season’s second half. I can’t help but wonder, if the Twins had made a playoff run in 2012, would the Twins have considered bringing up Oswaldo Arcia and playing him in October?
Probably not. The Twins would not have put Arcia in that situation, for a couple of reasons. First, and foremost, the Twins had plenty of outfielders that were playing well. Josh Willingham was in left field. Denard Span in Centerfield. Ben Revere was in right field. Also, Chris Parmelee could have been put in right field as well after crushing AAA pitching all season. Frankly, there were enough other options for the Twins, even in a rotten 2012 season, that Arcia did not need to be rushed.
It’s different with the Tigers. They have Austin Jackson in centerfield. Andy Dirks has earned every day playing time in the outfield. Quinton Berry had a nice rookie season, but he made a perfect platoon option. Brennan Boesch also hits left-handed, so he wasn’t a platoon option. The right-handed hitting Garcia was a good match with Berry. Also, I’m guessing it wasn’t a very difficult decision for Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland to keep the free-swinging Boesch off of the playoff roster.
I also don’t think it would be fair to say that the Twins would never consider bringing up a young player from the minor leagues in September (or August 31) and playing him in the playoffs. In 2003, Michael Cuddyer got recalled to the Twins for September and was the starting right fielder in the ALDS. He started in place of “Dusty Kielmohr” (Bobby Kielty and Dustin Mohr) and went 5-13 (.385) with 3 walks in the series against the A’s.
How does Oswaldo Arcia rank as a prospect compared to Avisail Garcia? When Baseball America came out with its lists of top prospects by league, both players made two lists. In the Florida State League (High-A), Arcia was listed as the #7 prospect while Garcia was #13. In the Eastern League (AA), Arcia ranked #6 while Garcia ranked at #11.
Here are their 2012 numbers, for comparison’s sake:
FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE
|Oswaldo Arcia||Ft. Myers||55||.309/.376/.517||.893||16||3||7|
|Oswaldo Arcia||New Britain||69||.328/.398/.557||.955||20||5||10|
Both players were quality Venezuelan prospects and signed just days apart from each other in July of 2007.
2008 – Arcia played in the Dominican Summer League. Garcia played in the Venezuelan Summer League.
2009 – While Arcia moved up one level at a time, starting in the GCL, the Tigers had Garcia start the 2009 season in the Midwest League, playing for West Michigan. Arcia put together a solid season in the GCL, posting a .792 OPS. Garcia struggled, as you would expect, with a .613 OPS.
2010 – Garcia returned to West Michigan in 2010 and improved slightly as a 19-year-old. He posted a .669 OPS. Meanwhile, Arcia put together his monster season for Elizabethton. It was the year that he hit .375/.424/.672 (1.096 OPS) with 21 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs.
2011 – Last year, Arcia started the season in Beloit where he hit .352/.420/.704 with 14 extra base hits in April. He had elbow surgery, and when he came back in June, he went right to Ft. Myers where he posted a .763 OPS for the Miracle with 24 extra base hits. Garcia spent all of 2011 with Lakeland, also in the Florida State League, where he posted a .686 OPS with 33 extra base hits.
2012 – Both started the season back in the Florida State League. Arcia posted an .893 OPS in 55 games before moving up to AA New Britain where he was even better (.955 OPS). Garcia posted a .771 OPS with Lakeland in 67 games before moving up to AA Erie where he posted an .810 OPS. Garcia got the promotion to the Tigers still on August 31 and hit .319 for the Tigers in 23 games. He had 15 singles in 47 at bats.
As Oswaldo Arcia is beginning his Venezuelan Winter League season in Aragua (the hometown of Garcia), Garcia is playing in the ALCS against the Yankees. As I watch Garcia contribute for the Tigers in the playoffs, I can’t help but get excited about the Twins future with Oswaldo Arcia (and Aaron Hicks, who ranked #8 in Baseball America’s Eastern League rankings and is also beginning his season in Venezuela with Margarita – where he is 5-14 (.357) to start the season) being a big part of it.