On Friday night, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that they had signed Cuban free agent outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia to a minor league contract. Garcia will additionally receive an invitation to Spring Training.
Adolis Garcia, the younger brother of Atlanta Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia, began his career in Cuba’s Serie Nacional as a second baseman, but has since established himself as a very successful right fielder. In his final season with Tigres de Ciego de Avila, Garcia batted .319 with a .399 on-base percentage, with a .922 OPS, for a team which won its second consecutive league title, after which Garcia won the league’s Most Valuable Player award. He also briefly played for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball last season.
It is very difficult to project players from international leagues to Major League Baseball, but Garcia is certainly an intriguing prospect. With some doubt about Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez’s reliability as potential backup outfielders, as well as doubts about Harrison Bader’s MLB readiness, Garcia could have an outside chance of making the big-league club out of Spring Training, though as he is just now entering his age-25 season, it would not be out of the ordinary for Garcia to be kept in the minor leagues in order to assimilate him to American baseball.