The Cincinnati Reds played half of a scrimmage game against themselves on Thursday evening at Great American Ballpark as they prepared for the 2020 season. That led to some players coming over from the Prasco Park group, including shortstop prospect Jose Garcia. He started at short for one of the two Reds teams in the 4 1/2 inning game. Following the game he was made available to the local media via a zoom press conference (like every other interview is being conducted). One of the things that was brought up was that he spent time working out with Manny Ramirez.
“Yeah, definitely watched him in Cuba when I was growing up and was little,” said Jose Garcia through the team translator. “I did work out with Manny. It was really a great privilege to work out with him, but I also worked out with my brother.”
The Reds top shortstop prospect spent his time between spring training and his return to Cincinnati earlier this month in Miami.
“I was in Miami. I was able to still do my workouts,” Garcia said. “I found a field to be able to get my reps in. I was very fortunate I was able to practice out there. I was practicing a lot on my hitting and a lot on my defense – just overall preparedness. Just trying to stay healthy and stay ready for the season.”
For Jose Garcia, he’s the player who looks like he’s “the future” at the shortstop position in the Reds organization. He’s the only shortstop prospect in the Top 25 prospects who is both a shortstop and has played a professional game. The other shortstop in the top 25 is Braylin Minier, who signed last summer as a 16-year-old and even in the best case scenario is several years away – especially given that he’s never played a professional game.
It was a bit of a coming out party in 2019 for Jose Garcia after a bit of a disappointing professional debut in 2018. During the 2019 campaign he spent the whole season in Advanced-A with the Daytona Tortugas where he hit .280/.343/.436 with a league best 37 doubles, a triple, and eight home runs. On the surface that line isn’t one that jumps off of the page, but it was the 5th best OPS+ in the entire Florida State League, which is notoriously pitcher friendly.
It was the spring that really got people to pay attention. He hit two homers in one game early on in the spring, and he had four of them through 30 plate appearances when spring training came to a halt. Just 22-years-old, Garcia was showing skills on both the offensive and defensive sides of the game that got people talking. Defensively he’s got a plus arm and good actions at the position. Offensively he’s got some speed, can hit, and there’s growing power in there. The 2020 season may not be going quite as planned, but it may also provide an opportunity for a guy like Garcia to find his way to the Major Leagues a little bit sooner than otherwise would have happened.