Updated: Mar 6, 2018
In conjunction with my friend Colin Garner over at The Redbird Daily, we present to you our combined list of the Top 30 Prospects in the Cardinals organization! Every other day for the next two months, From January 28th until March 29th, we will be presenting you with an exhaustive evaluation on each of the top 30 prospects in the organization starting with prospect #30 and counting down to prospect #1. This is our combined list, not our own individual lists. For additional information on how we came these rankings, CLICK HERE. Without further delay, we present...
Prospect #12, OF Jose Adolis Garcia
Age At The Start Of The 2018 Season: 25
Signed Out Of Cuba in February of 2017
AA wRC+: 124 AAA wRC+: 110
Kyle Reis (Prospect #11 On Personal List, Prior To Combining Lists With Colin Garner)
What I like about Jose Adolis Garcia is that WE CALL HIM "JAG" STOP CALLING HIM ANYTHING ELSE WE REALLY NEED THIS NICKNAME TO CATCH ON!
Now that we've got my personal agenda out of the way, the thing that I truly love most about JAG is that he is a damn MAN. He isn't some kid in need of huge development time and he isn't the obligatory "work in progress". He's polished and he's about as advanced of a prospect as you'll find on this list.
First, JAG has an arm canon. It's easily the strongest outfield arm in the organization. If you were to take a stencil and outline exactly what you want from a right fielder you'd make Jason Hayward, of course. He's not that good defensively. But then you'd make JAG. I mean, JUST LOOK AT THIS ARM:
Poor Kean Wong. He never stood a chance.
The next thing worth mention about JAG is that he is a very well put-together young man. He has more abs than I have IQ points. Now, of course, that has nothing to do with baseball or the ability to excel at baseball, but I'd be doing you a disservice if I omitted this picture from a write up on JAG:
Now that we have that out of the way we can now talk about the season that he had. There's 20/20 potential with JAG and there aren't many guys in the system that you can say that about. I do worry about the stolen base percentage that JAG flashed in 2017 but I do believe that he's quick enough to steal bases more proficiently with more practice. As you'll find out in a minute or so, the home run power is of concern, but once he settles on an approach you'll see 20 HR power. Most of the home runs that he hits aren't the type that barely clear the wall. They are usually moonshots, like this one:
The next thing that you have to like about JAG is the doubles total. 34 doubles is a Be-U-Tee-ful number. I'm a big fan of the 51 extra base hits in 445 at-bats, even though I think that there's more in there. He's usually punishing the ball, even when he's basically swinging one-handed, like here:
JAG is a complete athlete and a monster of a man with tools for days. He's the kind of player brings excitement to every at-bat and every game. I could really see him being a fan favorite once he puts it all together.
What I don't like about JAG is that for as good as his 2017 season was, he really could have been better. I mentioned above that I love how developed he is but that works against him here. He is a former MVP of the Cuban League. He isn't some kid that is still learning the nuances of the sport. The 34 doubles are fantastic, but he has way more power in there than he showed. That concerns me. I do expect more home runs to come, but I thought that we would have already seen it. Mainly because he spent all of 2017 in leagues that are considered to be hitter leagues. JAG is at the age now where he needs to be dominating Triple-A, not merely "doing what he's supposed to."
I also gushed about his fielding, but he does do some weird things out there. He still struggles with line drives, and he takes some odd angles sometimes. These mistakes aren't frequent, but they happen enough that I feel obligated to bring it up. JAG has played the outfield long enough that he shouldn't be doing it at all.
JAG is also a hitter caught in the middle. What I mean by that is, mainly when you watch him, you can tell he's still trying to figure out what type of hitter he wants to be. For stretches, you can say that he's just trying not to strike out. For other stretches, you can tell that he's trying to muscle up. Sometimes he up there trying to work a count. It'll do him well to settle on a profile style at the dish. Now, the guy has played in four different leagues spanning three different cultures over the last year and a half, and there's been a lot of adjusting, but he'll need to define himself in the American game during the 2018 season.
The other thing that sticks with me - and it's unfair to bring this up or to have it stick with me - is how terrible he was in the Japanese MINOR LEAGUES after he left Cuba. He was awful. Now, that can be (and should be) chalked up to the harsh time that he had adjusting to the culture. JAG has said that it was a culture shock for him and he struggled to find food that he liked. That means that he wasn't eating much. That has to suck, but it worries me because the Japanese professional league is probably as close to MLB as you'll find abroad. It's perhaps the ultimate "FOUR-A" league. The lack of success in Japan should be both mentioned and a worry. In my mind, the lack of success in their minor leagues is on par with being terrible at Double-A. So, in my mind, the success that he had at Springfield is kind of like having success while making a second pass at the league. Thus, those stats do not carry much weight with me.
If I'm comparing JAG to anyone right now, it's what we've seen out of Nick Markakis over the last nine years of his career. That's plus defense at a corner with modest over the fence power but an incredible amount of doubles. Try not to forget that Markakis was a monster for the first three years of his career. He's been more than serviceable since. I do believe that he'll strike out more than Markakis ever did, but I can't think of who that'd be right now. I believe that JAG has an ultimate ceiling similar to what the Dodgers received for years from Andre Ethier.
As always, these articles can't be done without Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. They are equally as reliant on the skills of Cardinalsgif's and NChill17. It's a pleasure to do this list with my friend Colin Garner at The Redbird Daily.
Thanks For Reading!