One name you are going to hear about a lot over the next 24 hours is Dermis Garcia.
Garcia, a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic, is viewed as one of the top prospects eligible to sign on July 2—the first day of the 2014-2015 international signing period—and he is expected to receive one of the largest bonuses among players in this year’s class.
According to Kiley McDaniel of Scouting Baseball, the New York Yankees are widely believed to have a deal in place with Garcia for $3 million, as the organization is expected to blow past international spending restrictions and sign a slew of international prospects.
That said, Garcia isn’t considered to be the top prospect in this year’s class. In fact, where he ranks among this year’s J2 players depends on whom you ask, which in turn raises questions as to whether or not he’ll ever emerge as the prize of this year’s class.
Before his signing is made official on Wednesday, here’s what you need to know about Dermis Garcia.
Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required) recently ranked Garcia as the No. 9 prospect for this year’s international signing period, proclaiming the right-handed slugger has “70 raw power that rates as the best in the class.”
Meanwhile, Garcia’s power also caught McDaniel’s eye (subscription required) during a scouting excursion to the Dominican Republic in January:
Garcia is stronger now but also matured, growing into his 6’2/190 frame and leveraging those newfound abilities in a more efficient swing. Garcia launched a number of homers to his pull side yesterday, flashing plus raw power that was also the best I’ve seen this week.
However, Badler also expressed concern about the utility of Garcia’s power at maturity, noting his lack of plate discipline while questioning the potential development of his hit tool:
The question every scout seems to have is whether Garcia can make the adjustments to get to his power in games. Garcia can crush a mistake, but he often sells out for power, flying open early and getting caught off balance with a fair dose of swing-and-miss in his game, which some think is tied to pitch recognition and plate discipline.
McDaniel isn’t as worried about Garcia’s approach, and he suggests that any mechanical issues with his swing can be ironed out as a professional:
While his balance and hitting tools are both very good, I’m not nuts about how he loads his hands and how his hands’ first movement from the loaded position is sometimes down, though both should be fixable with pro instruction given Garcia’s age.
While it’s easy to project Garcia as a middle-of-the-order hitter when all is said and done with his development, evaluators have expressed doubt over the 16-year-old’s ability to remain at shortstop long term.
Garcia “won’t play shortstop,” according to Badler, but “has a chance to play third base, depending on how big he gets.”
McDaniel, on the other hand, isn’t comfortable writing him off at shortstop just yet:
Garcia has enough defensive ability that you can’t rule out him sticking at shortstop. There have been examples, like Xander Bogaerts and Reid Brignac among recent AL East examples, of bigger athletes that look ticketed for third base in A-Ball that eventually worked their way into becoming big league shortstops with work. If I had to guess, I’d say Garcia ends up at third base and that seems to be the assumption with scouts, but the bat easily profiles if that happens.
In general, Garcia’s defensive tools and skill sets seemingly are a cleaner fit at third base than shortstop.
Though he possesses average speed at the present, Badler believes Garcia “will slow down as he gets bigger,” even suggesting that his size could push him to right field. However, he makes sure to mention Garcia’s plus arm and notes that “his hands should work at third base.”
Meanwhile, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, who ranked Garcia as the No. 1 international prospect in this year’s class, also praises the youngster’s arm strength while offering several generous player comparisons: “Some believe he’s going to have a plus-arm in the future, and he’s been compared to Twins prospect Miguel Sano, a teenage Alex Rodriguez and a young Shawon Dunston.”
Basically, Badler, McDaniel and Sanchez are in agreement that Garcia’s power is one of the loudest tools (if not the loudest) among hitters in this year’s class and will give him the chance to be a star in the major leagues.
Yet, it’s also clear that there’s an enormous gap between the 16-year-old’s present ability and overall potential—as is the case with any international player his age—which in turn makes it difficult to accurately project his future in professional baseball.
However, it’s a reasonable assumption that the Yankees will be gambling on Garcia’s enormous power potential should the organization ultimately sign him on July 2, as McDaniel predicts.
Garcia may not be the best prospect in this year’s international class, but his combination of size and raw power, and therefore his high ceiling, certainly provides something to dream on. He’ll likely require numerous seasons in the minors to refine his game, but the finished product could be a middle-of-the-order monster.