Avisail Garcia: Chicago White Sox should not give up on him

Mar 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia (26) hits and RBI single against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia (26) hits and RBI single against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Avisail Garcia has struggled throughout his career with the White Sox, but could this be the year he turns it around?

The White Sox acquired Avisail Garcia in a three-team trade that sent starting pitcher Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox. Garcia came to Chicago with less than 150 plate appearances under his belt and quickly became the starting right fielder. He played in 42 games with the White Sox to finish off the 2013 season, hitting .304 with five home runs and 24 RBIs.

Garcia only played in only 46 games the following season because of a torn labrum. In 190 plate appearances, he struggled. A slash line of .244/.305/.413 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs was a huge disappointment. He may have been able to pick it up later in the season, as it was only his first season as a starter in the majors, but he didn’t get the opportunity.

There were high hopes for Garcia once again in 2015. He appeared in 148 games as the White Sox starting right fielder, but it was clear that was only because the Sox had no other options. His .257/.309/.365 slash line was dreadful, and 13 home runs and 59 RBIs was laughable for a player who was supposed to bring power to an otherwise powerless lineup for the most part.

Garcia isn’t known as a great defender but he doesn’t get as much praise as he should. His -1.8 defensive WAR doesn’t tell the whole story. For a 6-foot-4, 240 pound man, he moves very well in the outfield. He doesn’t have great range, but it’s not as bad as a lot of people say. He also committed only three errors in the field last season, a .988 fielding percentage, which is good enough for third among right fielders. Garcia also led the majors with 17 outfield assists, showing off his good arm.

The biggest concern is, when will Avisail Garcia start to show some of the potential the White Sox raved about when acquiring him?

His struggles from the plate make him a near useless piece in the batting order as he doesn’t hit for a great average, doesn’t walk a lot, and doesn’t hit for power. He can sometimes muster a double, but he still only had 17 last season, seventh on the team. The White Sox were one of the worst power hitting teams in the league last season, so being third on the team with 13 home runs isn’t that impressive. Besides, the Sox leadoff man, Adam Eaton, hit more dingers than Garcia.

It may be his big build but Garcia looks like he should be hitting 20-25 out of the park a season. If not, he has to find a way to get on base, whether it’s drawing walks or getting hits. He owned a dreadful 0.9 offensive WAR, which proves he did close to nothing from the plate last season.

With as much hate as Garcia gets, I still believe it’s too early to give up on the 21-year old. For starters, he’s 21-years old and one of his two full seasons in the majors was cut short due to an injury. Now he has had a full season to recover and he should be ready to break out.

Avisail Garcia is also having one of the most impressive springs on the team. Out of players with at least 10 at-bats in spring training for the Sox, he is sixth in batting average (.333), seventh in on-base-percentage (.368), fourth in slugging percentage (.667), and leads the team in RBIs. His two home runs are still a concern as his power has not come around in spring, but he has shown improvement. If he were to keep that home run pace, and get as many at-bats as last season, he would hit 15 home runs, two more than last season.

Garcia is looking more confident at the plate and thus far tearing it up in spring. Not to mention that he will have all the opportunities in the world now that Adam LaRoche has retired.

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With the White Sox signing Austin Jackson, there was a chance Avisail Garcia would move to the bench in favor of Jackson and LaRoche. With LaRoche’s retirement, the door is wide open for the better defender in Jackson to play right field and still keep a high-potential player in Garcia in the batting order.

It does not faze Garcia that Jackson is on the roster. He will play anywhere and do anything he is told to help the team win. “I just have to keep playing,” Garcia said. “If they put me in right (field), I will do my best. … Everybody wants to win, and I’m in the same place. “I just like to play baseball, so I will do anything with all of my passion and all of my love …” Garcia said “DH, right field, center field, first base — wherever they put me, I’ll do my best.”

Becoming the team’s everyday designated hitter could benefit Garcia as he would focus only on batting.

There is good reason to be frustrated with Avisail Garcia. It’s all warranted, as he was one of the most disappointing players on a White Sox team  that featured a carousel of disappointment last season.

If Avisail Garcia improves his batting average, and his on-base-percentage, then he could become a key player in the White Sox batting order.

If Garcia were to break out, however, this would be the year. He is now a year removed from his torn labrum, he is having a great spring, he is once again going to be in the lineup every day, and this will be his third full MLB season.

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Avisail Garcia may never develop the power like someone would expect from a guy with his build, but if you only focus on that then you might miss out on a solid player.