Garcia caps six-hit day with homer

Pirates' No. 16 prospect breaks out with record performance

By Jake Seiner / Special to | June 24, 2013 9:23 PM ET

Willy Garcia's previous career high was three hits in a game, so by the time he got to five Monday, he was already in uncharted territory.

When he got a sixth at-bat in the 12th inning, he turned a career performance into one of the best this season.

The Pirates' No. 16 prospect capped his evening with an eventual game-winning home run in the 12th inning of Class A Advanced Bradenton's 6-4 victory over St. Lucie.

The right fielder was 6-for-6 with a double, two RBIs and two runs. The six hits were not only a career high for Garcia, but also the best in Marauders' history.

"Obviously, this time is by far the best," Garcia said through translator and hitting coach Edgar Varela. "I was able to stay relaxed, stay confident into the game."

Garcia has come into his own over the past month after a disappointing first half. The raw right fielder entered the season with a reputation as a potentially potent power hitter, but batted just .220 with four homers over his first 48 games.

June has been a different story for the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder. Garcia is hitting .353 -- he raised that average over 50 points Monday -- with six homers and a 1.111 OPS. Two of those homers have come over his past three games.

Monday's long ball came with one out in the top of the 12th with Stetson Allie at first base. The right-handed Garcia drove a change-up over the wall in left field, and Joan Montero escaped a second-and-third jam in the bottom of the frame to preserve the win.

While the home run served as an excellent cherry on Garcia's Monday sundae, it was his single in the 10th that was the most personally fulfilling.

"The fifth at-bat was the best at-bat," Garcia said. "[Pitcher T.J. Chism] repeated the same pitch three times. I have had trouble recognizing off-speed, and I recognized it and got a hit. I hit a line drive."

That shot dropped into left field and moved Allie to second, giving the Marauders a pair of baserunners with two outs. Jose Osuna followed with a base hit to left, but Allie was tossed out as left fielder Dustin Lawley hit cut-off man Robbie Shields, who got the ball to catcher Kevin Plawecki in time.

Garcia's first hit was a single on a ground ball to left to lead off the second. He followed that with a double to left and added ground-ball singles in the sixth and eighth.

"As long as I have a good at-bat early in the game," he said, "I stay confident going into the second at-bat and later in the game, the second half of the game."

The Marauder is 8-for-10 through two games in the team's current trip to St. Lucie. The performance has raised his season average 22 points to .256. He has 10 home runs with 28 RBIs and a .741 OPS.

Allie, playing his fifth game since being promoted from Class A West Virginia, went 3-for-5 with two runs and a walk. He is hitting .333 with Bradenton.

Lawley was 4-for-6 and finished a triple shy of a cycle for St. Lucie. The left fielder is batting .357 with three homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.063 OPS in his last 10 games.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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