Jose Garcia entered the 2018 season as the $5 million man. It's taken some time, but he's starting to show why the Reds paid a high price to sign him out of Cuba in June 2017.
Cincinnati's No. 14 prospect has been named Midwest League Offensive Player of the Week after going 13-for-29 (.448) with two homers, a double and two stolen bases over six games for Class A Dayton. This is the first Minor League Player of the Week he's won since making his pro debut with the Dragons back in April.
Garcia ended the week with five straight multi-hit games from Wednesday to Sunday, going 12-for-24 (.500) over that span. His 13 total hits were tied for fourth-most among all Minor Leaguers during the seven-day period from Aug. 13-19 and two more than anyone else at Class A. Only South Atlantic League honoree Casey Golden (22) had more total bases at the level than Garcia's 20.
• View the Pitcher of the Week winners »
The 20-year-old shortstop/second baseman is hitting .307/.350/.547 during 17 games in August with four of his six homers on the season coming in the month alone. That's a far cry from his production over the first half when he hit .202/.248/.274 over his first 60 games before the All-Star break and just .178/.211/.205 over 19 games in April.
But like many international players getting their careers going in full-season ball, it's been a year of adjustments for the 6-foot-2, right-handed slugger, and those changes are starting to turn into real results, according to his manager.
"He's been working a lot in the cage with [hitting coach] Daryle Ward to improve as the season's gone on," said Dayton manager Luis Bolivar. "He used to have a big leg kick, but now, it's not there so much. The leg kick was interfering with his timing. With the kick taking up so much time, he was rushing and getting too long, and that was messing with his ability to make contact. When he shortened his leg kick, he was able to get short to the ball and has been able to drive the ball better from both sides of the plate."
Cincinnati signed the infielder for about $5 million in June 2017 -- just before the close of the 2016-17 international signing window -- after he showed plenty of potential with the Cuban junior national team.
His best tools remain his plus speed and above-average arm, and he's spent most of his time with Dayton at shortstop after primarily playing second base in his native country. But even while Garcia had to adjust to the Midwest League's cold April weather and the rigors of playing every day, Bolivar never saw him lose confidence.
"He's a very smart kid," said the Dragons manager. "He's always handled himself, even when he was cold to begin the season. He knows what he wants to do. He knows there are big expectations for him. He has those big expectations for himself, too. Making the transition, I'm sure he's seen all the differences between what he was used to and what he needs to do to be successful. He's already got a house in Miami, so he'll be there all offseason, taking what he's learned and building on things there for next season."
Garcia's improvements only add to the excitement around the Dayton infield. Reds No. 7 prospect Jeter Downs has enjoyed a solid first full season, mostly playing to Garcia's left at second base, while No. 55 overall prospect/third baseman Jonathan India joined those two on July 30. The trio could move on together to Class A Advanced next season, and the Reds would love to see them develop as a potential infield core with top prospect Nick Senzel also manning the dirt two levels above. How long India, Downs and Garcia can stick together will be determined, but the lowest-ranked prospect of the group -- who enters the final two weeks with a .245/.295/.345 line over 114 games on the season -- has perhaps done the most to improve his standing and make a good final impression before 2018 comes to a close.
"It's gonna make [Garcia] even better next year, I know that," Bolivar said. "From the way he ended to the way he started, it's no doubt going to bring him a boost of confidence. He's going to be in much better position now, knowing that if he keeps working hard, results like this can come. He's going to have a big year, if he keeps this up."
Here is the complete list of Minor League Offensive Players of the Week for Aug. 13-19:
||.379/.419/.828, 7 G, 11-for-29, 1 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 5 R, 2 BB, 10 K
||.462/.533/1.192, 7 G, 12-for-26, 1 2B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 4 K
||.524/.583/.857, 6 G, 11-for-21, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
||.375/.423/.875, 6 G, 9-for-24, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 0 BB, 2 K
||.438/.500/.750, 5 G, 7-for-16, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 SB
||.429/.429/.821, 6 G, 12-for-28, 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 5 R, 0 BB, 7 K
||.375/.444/.708, 6 G, 9-for-24, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 SB
||.370/.387/.778, 7 G, 10-for-27, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R, 1 BB, 6 K
||.448/.467/.690, 6 G, 13-for-29, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 2 SB, 1 CS
||.458/.480/.917, 6 G, 11-for-24, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 SB
||.467/.556/1.000, 4 G, 7-for-15, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K
||.500/.609/.722, 7 G, 9-for-18, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB, 4 K, 2 SB, 1 CS
||.375/.464/1.250, 6 G, 9-for-24, 2 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB, 7 K
||.500/.565/.722, 5 G, 9-for-18, 2 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 4 SB, 1 CS