During the 2017 international free agency period, the Yankees inked a player who flew a little bit under the radar at the time. Although well-known to scouts and ranked as the 28th-best prospect in the signing period by Baseball America, Anthony Garcia fell below the headline names who signed with the Yankees that year, such as Everson Pereira and Raimfer Salinas. The switch-hitting outfielder quickly turned heads when his official measurements of 6-feet, 5-inches and 204 pounds as a 17-year-old were matched by his prodigious power from both sides of the plate. Garcia is now raking in the Florida Complex League and putting up numbers to match his stature.
After a quick 2018 debut in the Dominican Summer League, the Yankees pushed Garcia to the Gulf Coast League that same season, where he proceeded to lead the league in home runs with 10 in 44 games. While the raw power was electric at times, equally concerning was the extreme amount of strikeouts, as he whiffed nearly 42 percent of the time on the season.
A brief promotion to Rookie Advanced Pulaski to finish 2018 introduced Garcia to the level where he would start the next season. He was set to be part of a talented outfield full of Yankees prospects such as Ryder Green, Antonio Cabello, and Madison Santos. Unfortunately Garcia’s season was cut short by a leg injury just six games into the campaign. The option of an incremental step of the player development ladder would be taken away from Garcia before he set foot on the field again.
First, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season, and then Major League Baseball dramatically realigned the minor leagues, eliminating both the Rookie-Advanced Appalachian League and the Short-Season A New York-Penn League. Those levels would have been the most logical landing sites for Garcia in 2021, but were no longer available.
After the long layoff, Garcia found himself heading to extended spring training to get in some early season work. With a crowded outfield at the Yankees Tampa complex featuring some of the team’s best prospects, the Yankees also began using Garcia as a first baseman. The Yankees’ system is relatively devoid of first base prospects, and he would be one of the best at the position in the organization, along with recently drafted Tyler Hardman.
More impressive than a change of position has been Garcia’s offense so far this season. The powerful hitter has come out of the gate strong, belting eight home runs in his first 57 at-bats. He is also walking 20 percent of the time this season, contributing to a .316/.452/.754 slash line that is good for a 198 wRC+.
Garcia posted video of the home run on Instagram. The sound of the crack of the bat in person sounded like a gunshot. pic.twitter.com/Nq5YOlxQwn— Eli Fishman (@elijfishman) July 17, 2021
Despite first playing in the Florida Complex League’s predecessor, the Gulf Coast League, in 2018, Garcia is not old for the level. At just 20, he is a league-average age for his current level and a strong candidate for a promotion before the end of the year. He has cut back on his strikeouts, still a borderline-high 30 percent, but down from 41 percent in his only full season. He is developing the plate discipline to get on base while hitting for incredible power.
Garcia has also added a new wrinkle to his game as he has proved to be opportunistic base stealer so far this season. He is a perfect nine-for-nine in stolen base attempts in 2021. He had just 3 in the first 59 games of his career coming into the season.
Anthony Garcia looks to have made significant progress so far in the 2021 season. He is armed with some of the best raw power in all of minor league baseball and is now making enough contact to actually put it to good use. There is still a long road ahead for Garcia to reach the majors, but he is crushing the 2021 season out of the gate and is an improved version of the player who last stepped on the field in 2019.