Sox’ Avisail Garcia: His ‘ceiling is off the charts’
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN August 21, 2013 10:10PM
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Updated: September 23, 2013 2:37PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Avisail Garcia has passed the eye test. Or should we say the “all eyes are on him” test.
Teammates can see ability a mile away. Shoot, the fan who goes to one game a year can see Garcia’s five-tool talents from the upper deck. But there is more than ability that separates the good players from the greats (see Starlin Castro’s ongoing issues on the North Side of town?) and Garcia, 22, seems to have what it takes to be more than good.
“I sense a drive there and a want to do it the right way,’’ Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “There’s not a lot of fear. He’s just got it. I don’t know what that is. He’s just got it.’’
Beckham brought up Garcia unsolicited while talking about the team’s future before the Sox took a 5-2 victory on Wednesday night against the Kansas City Royals. He feels good about the path they’re on because of the young starting pitching and because of Garcia, who might be a fixture for years.
“I’ve been very happy with the way he goes about it, which is the biggest compliment I can give to anybody,’’ Beckham said. “He wants to be good, he wants to win, he wants to do well for himself and the team. Paul [Konerko] and I were talking earlier, his basement is just being good and his ceiling is off the charts.
“You’re going to miss [former veteran right fielder Alex] Rios, but for the money he’s making and what he brings to the team, he’ll be very valuable to the organization and to us as a team.’’
The 6-4, 240-pound Garcia isn’t quiet, but he’s not outspoken, Beckham said. He’s young, but he has World Series experience with the Detroit Tigers last season, manager Robin Ventura reminded.
“He runs balls out,’’ Beckham said.
With that alone, he’s already showing leadership by being a max-effort, grind-out every at-bat kind of player management wants.
“This is business,’’ Garcia said. “You have to work. You have to do your best on the field.’’
He’s far from a finished product. The swing can stand to be shortened up a little. His upper half was swaying some when he first arrived, and the big batting-practice power hasn’t shown up in games. On the plus side, Garcia is driving the ball the opposite way.
“It’s easier to have a guy that goes the other way and he learns how to pull,’’ Ventura said. “He’s ahead of the game right now.’’
Garcia did run into an out at third base on a grounder to shortstop Tuesday night.
So he’s not perfect.
After getting a career-high three hits on Tuesday, Garcia went 2-for-5 with a run Wednesday to raise his average in 12 games with the Sox to .348, with three doubles and a triple among his 16 hits. He has five RBI and seven runs scored and has had hits in 10 of the 11 games he has started.
For what it’s worth, the Sox were 7-3 in those games.
“He’s been a presence in the clubhouse and in the lineup,’’ hitting coach Jeff Manto said. “He’s extremely mature for his big-league age. It’s a great thing to see from a young guy. He walks in a clubhouse, the way he acts, it’s like he’s been in the big leagues for 10 years. Extremely respectful and cordial to everybody.’’
“It’s fun to be around,’’ said Alejandro De Aza, who plays next to him in the outfield. “He’s got everything. He knows how to play the game. And he has talent.’’