Once viewed as the potential catcher of the future for the San Francisco Giants, Aramis Garcia could be entering a make-or-break season in 2020.
The San Francisco Giants selected Aramis Garcia in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft.
As the No. 52 overall pick, he was the fifth catcher off the board, behind only Kyle Schwarber (No. 4 to CHC), Max Pentecost (No. 11 to TOR), Blake Anderson (No. 36 to MIA) and Chase Vallot (No. 40 to KC).
It wasn’t the least bit surprising to see him selected that early after he hit .368/.442/.626 with 24 extra-base hits during his junior season at Florida International to win Conference USA Player of the Year.
He began the 2015 season as the No. 16 prospect in the San Francisco Giants farm system, according to Baseball America. He steadily rose the ranks from there, earning a spot among the club’s top 10 prospects three years running from 2016-18.
A strong 2017 campaign saw him hit .274/.323/.485 with 32 doubles, 17 home runs and 73 RBI in 103 games between High-A and Double-A, leaving him on the cusp of reaching the majors entering the 2018 season.
However, his production cratered during a full season in the upper levels of the minors and he wound up hitting just .233/.285/.381 in 90 games, though he still flashes some intriguing power potential with 15 doubles and 11 home runs.
Those struggles coincided with the team’s selection of Georgia Tech standout Joey Bart with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, which puts his long-term outlook with the team in question.
Garcia will turn 27 years old on January 12, so he’s no longer a prospect in the traditional sense, even if he does still hold rookie eligibility.
In 37 games worth of MLB action the past two seasons, he’s hit .229/.270/.419 for an 85 OPS+ with six home runs and 14 RBI. He’s also struck out 52 times in 111 plate appearances for a staggering 46.8 percent strikeout rate.
As an average-at-best defender, Garcia was always going to need to hit his way into an MLB job, and he simply hasn’t done that to this point.
The front office didn’t trust him to stake claim to the backup catcher job last spring, bringing in a number of veteran options on minor league deals before opening the season with Erik Kratz as the backup and eventually moving on to Stephen Vogt.
Vogt is a free agent and might have priced himself out of the team’s plans with his strong 2019 performance, but if Garcia wasn’t a serious contender to win the job after a strong 2018 season, there’s no reason to believe he’ll be the guy after a disappointing showing in 2019.
Teams always need catching depth, so there’s no reason to think the Giants will cut Garcia loose, but at this point, it’s hard to view him as anything more than organizational depth.
A strong spring or a hot start at Triple-A could earn him one more look, especially if the backup catcher job is up in the air once again, but he’s running out of chances to prove himself.
For that reason, the 2020 season will be a make-or-break year for San Francisco Giants catching prospect Aramis Garcia, as he tries to prove he can be part of the team’s present and future plans.