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Anthony Garcia: The Early Surprise Leader

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Anthony Garcia has jumped out of the box, getting off to a fast start, but faces a daunting task in trying to gain a roster spot.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen, baseball is back.

Well, not officially, I suppose; the games don't count for anything yet and the jerseys are red and there's a guy named Deck McGuire (who I actually remember writing up back in 2010 when he was drafted), slated to make a start for the Cardinals, but still. Baseball is at least sort of back.

There was a game on television yesterday, and queued it up on the DVR in the evening when I got home. And it was glorious. And today, for the first time this year, I will indulge in one of my most favouritest things in the whole world: I will go to the bar, take my seat all the way down at the far end, right next to the blackboard where they list all that's on tap for the day, and I will watch a Sunday afternoon Cardinal game. And I expect it will be even more glorious than yesterday's game. And even if it isn't, I will have beer, and that will be glorious. So, you know, I'm expecting the day to have some glory one way or another. Probably the whole day, really. Yep, just looking forward to a real glorious whole today. And I don't know why you're snickering, but I don't appreciate it.

Anyhow, before I kick off the 2016 baseball season with my Sunday day game ritual, I have to write up this morning's column. And really, what better subject to very briefly broach than the guy who has come out of the gate as the early favourite for our annual Spring Surprises award. Actually, I guess the award itself goes to the poster who predicted the surprise, rather than the player providing said surprise, but you know what I mean.

And yes, if you're rereading the spring surprises post and wondering, I still stand by my contention we may all be seeing Aledmys Diaz as the better long-term second base option by midseason this year. The situation is just going to be much, much more complicated now that Kolten Wong has a new contract.

It's far, far too early, of course, to really put any kind of significance on any of the performances we're seeing in spring training; I won't even bother talking about what pitchers have looked good and which ones haven't yet. But hey, if we can't hyperventilate over less than a handful of games, then what exactly are we really doing here at this blog?

Anthony Garcia has come out of the gate strong. Like, really strong. Like a .571 batting average and the only Redbird with more than one run driven in so far strong. Even better, he's looked good in the outfield, showing off his arm in gunning down a Marlin at the plate (though that guy was totally safe on replay), and making one really nice running catch in right. I'm admittedly skeptical about Garcia's defense in the outfield -- what I've seen of him has been somewhat less than encouraging -- but seeing him play well out there, even in a sample of just a couple games, is pretty exciting.

Here's my scouting report on Garcia, by the way. He came in at number eight overall, just behind Magneuris Sierra and one spot ahead of Sam Tuivailala.

The big question for Garcia, of course, is how much of an opportunity there will be for him on the roster this year. The Cardinals are thinner in the outfield this spring than they have been the last couple years -- and Matt Holliday missing the game yesterday with a sore back feels much more ominous than it really should -- but even so, as it stands now it's hard to see a path to much playing time for Garcia, putting aside the possibility of a long-term injury, he said as he looked around for a wooden surface upon which to knock.

As things stand now, the Cards have four outfield options on the roster I expect to get the vast majority of the playing time. Between Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, and the aforementioned Matt Holliday, the Cardinals have four options in the outfield who deserve large chunks of playing time. Brandon Moss, slated to see time at first base and probably in the outfield as well, represents the only legitimate left-handed hitting option among potential flycatchers. Unfortunately for Garcia, as he also hits from the right side -- and cannot play center field -- he doesn't present a great fit for the roster as currently constructed. Even if the Cardinals decided they wanted another outfield option on the roster, which I have a hard time seeing, considering they seem set for now on deploying Moss and Matt Adams as a weird tandem (I can't say platoon, obviously), option, at least in the early going, Garcia would probably not be the best option.

It's a tough situation for the player, obviously, even if it's probably an extremely encouraging development for the team. As frustrating as it has to be for the guy playing well to look at the roster and see virtually no opportunities, at least in the near-term, the club has to feel as if a proper backup option in case of long-term injury is a big deal.

For now, though, we can probably just leave the roster questions alone and enjoy highlight clips of real, honest to god baseball, even if it doesn't count for anything yet. For instance:

and a couple of hits, as well (Garcia seems to have spent the offseason working on hitting low line drives right down the left field line):

So, what (if anything), has stood out to you all about spring training so far? (If you've even had a chance to watch any yet, that is.)

Game is at noon today, everybody. Enjoy.