Thursday, February 2, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #17 2B Harold Garcia

Harold Garcia was signed as a free agent at the age of 17 back in 2004. The 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pounder got his professional career started with three seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League before heading to the United States to continue his ascent up the developmental ranks.

In three seasons playing in the VSL, Garcia’s offensive progression was evident, as he posted batting averages that increased annually- .226, .273, .296.

After arriving stateside, Garcia spent the 2008 season with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, where he batted .299 with 5 homers and a .907 OPS in 50 games, leading his club to the league championship.

In 2009, Garcia continued his winning ways, helping the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws lock down the South Atlantic League championship. As a member of the BlueClaws, Garcia finished third in the SAL with 42 stolen bases. He also batted .291 with 8 homers and 55 RBI with a .765 OPS in 118 games that season.

At age 23 in 2010, Garcia really proved himself worthy of considerable praise when he posted a .305 batting average with an .807 OPS and 29 steals in 101 games at two levels. He made headlines that year when, as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, he set the all-time Florida State League hit streak record at 37 games. After subsequently being named Phillies minor league player of the month for June, Garcia was promoted to the Double-A Reading Phillies. As a member of the R-Phils, the switch-hitting Garcia posted a solid line of .281/.340/.403.

Primed for a big year in 2011, Garcia's season ended after just 12 games when he tore ligaments in his right knee. In that limited action, Garcia sported a .300 average with 3 doubles, 2 homeruns and 4 RBI.

Fully recovered over the off-season, Garcia spent some time with the his hometown Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. In 2 games, the 25-year-old went 1-for-5 with a walk.

Primarily a second baseman throughout his career, Garcia has also played third base (66 games) and shortstop (3) games during his professional career. He even dabbled in the outfield at fall instructional league in 2010. In the field, Garcia ranks well above average, but he may need to spend more times at those other positions to increase his versatility and value.

Speed is definitely a key aspect of Garcia's game as he has stolen 107 bases in his pro career. However, his 76% career success rate certainly leaves some room for improvement.

Barring any setbacks, Garcia, a member of the Phillies' 40-man roster, could see a solid amount of time with the big club in spring training. If Garcia can pick up where he left off last year, he could be counted on as a filler if injuries to the infield arise this season or join the Phils as a September call up this year.

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2012 Prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

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