Maikel Garcia is on fire and his emergence may give the Royals a critical building block for the future: a potential stalwart lead-off man.
The 23-year-old third baseman has hit safely in five straight games from the lead-off spot, extending a stretch in which he’s recorded at least one hit in 21 of 29 games dating back to early June.
It’s been a disappointing season for Kansas City, but it’ll be easier to stomach if Garcia can join Bobby Witt Jr, Vinnie Pasquantino, and MJ Melendez as obvious pieces to build around.
Maikel Garcia’s Breakout for the Royals
Garcia may remind fans of Alcides Escobar, with a penchant for attacking early in the count and catching pitchers off guard. He’s got a hit in 12 of his last 19 at-bats with a double, home run, and three RBI while playing strong defense and stealing a couple of bases.
Escobar, of course, is one of the most beloved Royals from the great 2014-2015 teams, so Garcia could have the same impact if he continues on this trajectory. The Royals organization desperately needs to build players to surround Witt Jr. with, as he’s enjoying a stellar season as one of only three players with 25+ extra-base hits AND stolen bases.
Garcia’s excellent defensive chops at third base and ability to avoid strikeouts while tearing up the basepaths make him a perfect fit alongside Witt Jr. and the injured Pasquantino. Just like that, the Royals may have nearly completed their infield for the future.
On the season, Garcia is batting .297 with a .755 OPS and three home runs. He’s stolen 13 bases and been caught just once, so he can hurt opposing pitchers in a variety of ways.
With the ability to play both shortstop and third base, Garcia gives the Royals options with Witt Jr. defensively too. Witt Jr. has been a better third baseman than shortstop defensively, so Kansas City could theoretically switch the two if need be.
Michael Massey is showing excellent defensive chops too, and it’s easy to imagine a dominant infield defense with those three players manning the field.
Garcia has true potential to stick with the organization. The Royals should give the Venezuelan every opportunity moving forward to get at-bats and continue developing at the plate.
It may feel like a lost season, but if Garcia’s emergence is legit, then at least Kansas City will have found one diamond in the rough to build from.
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