Luis Garcia was one of the most coveted international free agents in the 2016 class and the Nationals paid him like it, giving him a $1.3 million bonus.
He rewarded their faith by hitting .302/.330/.387 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League at age 17 last year and began the 2018 season tied with the Padres' Justin Lopez as the youngest player (17 years and nine months) on a full-season roster. Considering his youth, a slow April for Class A Hagerstown can hardly be called a disappointment. And in May, he's living up to expectations -- and then some.
Gameday box score
The Nationals' No. 6 prospect reached base five times, matching a career high in hits while going 4-for-4 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored in the Suns' 7-2 win over Greensboro on Friday at Municipal Stadium.
The 18-year-old infielder has collected seven hits over his past two games, boosting his average to .275 after entering the month with a .198 mark. Since the turn of the calendar, Garcia -- who was born in New York but grew up in the Dominican Republic -- has a .329/.358/.513 slash line with eight extra-base hits, including two homers. He totaled one home run over 49 games last season
Hagerstown hitting coach Amaury Garcia said the conditions in April played havoc with Garcia's game.
"He has never played in cold weather," Amaury Garcia said. "Mentally, he was battling, but now it's [warmer] and since he's from the Dominican, he's more comfortable."
This month's numbers match scouts' evaluations, as he's been praised for his combination of hitting ability, speed and defense. The left-handed hitter ranked ninth on MLB Pipeline's list of the Top 30 international prospects for the 2016-17 signing period and was noted for his quick swing and consistent hard contact. Pipeline also scores his arm at a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Amaury Garcia expects Luis Garcia will continue to fill out and that his power will grow as well.
"He's a tall kid and he'll get stronger," the coach said. "In a couple more years, he'll hit for more power. He has quick hands and he has strength."
Friday's was his 11th multiple-hit game this year.
Garcia doesn't believe the large signing bonus put any pressure on the prospect or contributed to his tough start.
"No, he's always smiling, he's fun to watch, always relaxed. He's just trying to do his best."
Nationals No. 28 prospect Anderson Franco doubled, singled and drove in two runs, while Texas A&M product Nick Banks was 3-for-5 with a run scored and two stolen bases. Kameron Esthay hit a three-run homer, his fourth of the year.
Tomas Alastre (2-2), ranked 24th in the Nationals system, allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while punching out three over five innings for the win. Steven Fuentes gave up two hits and fanned four over four scoreless frames to pick up his second save.
Marlins No. 11 prospect Edward Cabrera (1-4) took the loss after giving up four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four.