31 August 2012
Let’s all hope the two players-to-be-named-later that the Tigers sent to the Chicago Cubs end up being a bunch of nobodies because the Tigers have decided to part ways with recently-acquired platoon man Jeff Baker after just 15 games and 37 (abysmal) plate appearances. Baker was brought in to hit against left-handed pitching, but he managed a terrible .185/.231/.416 line in that capacity as a member of the Tigers.
It’s an incredibly small sample size of course, and he most certainly would hit better than that going forward, but the club has apparently decided to “shake things up a bit” with a move. Replacing Baker on the active roster will be top outfield prospect (unless you consider Nick Castellanos to now be an outfield prospect) Avisail Garcia.Garcia began the year in Lakeland (Advanced-A) where he hit well enough (.289/.324/.447 with eight homers) to earn a mid-year promotion to Erie (AA). He has continued to hit well there (.312/.345/.465 with six more homers) though Erie is a noted hitter-friendly park. He’s been a high-strikeout, low walk type hitter (somewhat) similar to Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch, but he’s done well to reduce the strikeouts and increase the contact this season.
The scouting reports typically refer to Garcia as a raw, toolsy type player with good athletic abilities and a frame to grow into some power. He has the speed and athleticism to be a good corner outfielder right now (he’s played some center field in Erie, but I think that’s more out of necessity than ability), so he would represent an immediate upgrade to the team in that department. His numbers indicate that he’s made good strides toward mold ingsome of his “raw tools” into actual abilities, but he’s probably not going to make an immediate impact as an MLB hitter, at least not in an everyday sense. He’s likely being promoted to take over Baker’s platoon role, and maybe he’ll succeed in that role, but another year in the minors wouldn’t hurt his development toward becoming an everyday (plus) outfielder. The minor league regular season ends after this weekend, so brining him up now won’t really prevent him from garnering regular developmental at-bats there.
Avisail Garcia was already on the 40-man roster, so this move opens up a spot in there should the Tigers like to add a postseason-eligible candidate (perhaps Don Kelly).
Matt Snyder writes about Baseball, Football, and College Basketball. He can be found online as the creator and editor of Forever Faithful, the editor of The Tigers Den, a contributor to Call To The Pen, and a contributor to SideLion Report. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.