Garcia begins winter ball in Venezuela
The most anticipated winter ball stint by a Tigers prospect in years is underway. Avisail Garcia made his Venezuelan League debut Saturday for Caribes de Anzoategui, going 0-for-3 with a walk, before singling for his first hit on Sunday.
Both games, Garcia started in right field, batting sixth in a Caribes lineup that currently includes another former Tigers hotshot outfield prospect, Gorkys Hernandez.
The plan is for Garcia to spend December with the club leading into the holidays, giving him a pretty long look against good competition while trying to ward off the fatigue factor after his first truly long season (remember, he hadn’t been a September call-up before this year) and a soon-approaching Spring Training (it starts earlier to accommodate the World Baseball Classic).
Garcia has spent past winters playing in Venezuela in their minor league, the Liga Paralela, but hasn’t had extended time up at the top level. This is his year to break through on that level, having established himself as at least someone on the verge of a big league role.
How well Garcia performs in Venezuela will likely play a big part in how soon he can stick in the big leagues. Tigers officials are leaving the door open for him and fellow outfield prospect Nick Castellanos to compete for a roster spot this coming spring, but team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski cautioned earlier this month that they won’t be able to stick just filling the short role of a platoon situation in left field. They’ll have to get enough playing time to justify the promotion, whether it’s an everyday job or more of a true split platoon.