Luis Garcia is back with the Nationals.
After spending the first two months of the season in Triple-A, the 22-year-old shortstop prospect was recalled by the Nationals ahead of Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets. Garcia was called up to replace Alcides Escobar, who sustained a right hamstring strain on Tuesday night.
Garcia spent most of 2020 and 2021 in the big leagues, appearing in 110 games with the Nationals in those two seasons. He hit .254 with 38 RBIs across his two seasons, showing increased power last year with 18 doubles and six home runs in 70 games.
According to multiple reports, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said before the game that Garcia will be the team’s everyday shortstop during his time with the big league club. Whether he will be sent back down to Triple-A once Escobar is healthy is unknown, but it could depend on how Garcia performs in the next few weeks. Garcia is hitting seventh in Martinez’s lineup on Wednesday.
While Garcia improved in 2021 and showed potential, the Nationals chose to take it slow with the youngster as the organization entered its first season fully embracing a rebuild. He dominated Triple-A competition with Rochester this spring, hitting .314 with a .531 slugging percentage thanks to six doubles, four triples and eight home runs in 42 games. Garcia also tallied 39 runs scored, 32 RBIs and 16 walks out of the No. 3 hole in the lineup.
The biggest question mark for Garcia is his defense. He mostly played second base with the Nationals last season and compiled a below-average .955 fielding percentage. In 11 career major league games at shortstop, he made three errors. In Triple-A this season, Garcia has made eight errors for a .931 fielding percentage.
In April, as Escobar was struggling mightily at the plate and Garcia was raking in Rochester, general manager Mike Rizzo said on 106.7 The Fan that the Nationals are taking it slow with Garcia to ensure that he’s “prepared” to be an everyday shortstop in the majors.
“[Shortstop] is where we want him to play,” Rizzo said. “We bounced him around last season, playing second base and shortstop, and at the big-league level it was almost exclusively second base. He’s learning to play shortstop at a high level in Triple-A.”
“We just want to make sure he’s got his feet underneath him when he gets here to play shortstop every day in the big leagues,” Rizzo continued. “We know he’s the future at shortstop.”
Martinez gave a similar sentiment in April as well, saying that the Nationals need Garcia’s “defense to be crisp and clean.”
“It’s not just about hitting with him,” Martinez said. “It’s about the overall game. When he comes here, he’s going to come here and play every day. Whether it’s shortstop, whether it’s second base, we don’t know that. We hope that he can play shortstop for us in the future, but we need his defense to be crisp and clean.”
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