Bernstein: Robel Garcia A Fun Story, For Now

It's been an improbable journey to the big leagues for Garcia.

Dan Bernstein
July 08, 2019 - 10:43 am
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(670 The Score) That's some kind of improbable run for the Cubs' Robel Garcia, earning his way to the big leagues after falling completely out of affiliated pro baseball.

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This story can happen more easily now, we understand, thanks to increased ability to track such metrics as exit velocity and launch angle and a greater awareness of the value of both to scoring and winning, even if the popular approach brings with it a higher strikeout rate. Garcia is a player representative of these very times in that regard, with numbers at Double-A and Triple-A so loud that they finally couldn't be ignored by a team in need of any offense it can find.

And what the Cubs have found so far in the 26-year-old Garcia has been a lively and potent bat. Garcia is slashing .364/.462./1.091 in his 13 plate appearances in the big leagues, with two home runs and a wRC+ of 273. In just that time, he has already added 0.3 WAR to the Cubs' cause, displaying the raw ability to stay on velocity from both sides of the plate.

The All-Star break arrives in opportune fashion for him too, pressing the pause button on his story and allowing us to enjoy the novelty and the fun before the reality of the majors sets in. While non-prospects can indeed redefine their status in the larger picture, the game at the highest level also has a way of pushing back.

Garcia's defense at second base has been a rough watch so far, something we went through last season when the team was then searching for a similar offensive lift when Daniel Murphy was acquired via a trade with the Nationals. Murphy hit a little bit (115 wRC+) but could barely move in the field, displaying the approximate range of a bookcase, a reminder that when it comes to fixing a baseball team on the fly there's always a catch -- or lack thereof.

The two errors for Garcia were a bad look. The first -- mishandling an off-line but receivable throw from David Bote at third -- could be chalked up to rookie jitters, but the one Sunday couldn't. He allowed a routine double-play chopper to bounce off the heel of his glove, and then he kicked the ball away and couldn't record even a single out. There's little margin for that kind of miscue, with Cubs' fielders near the top of the National League in total errors despite being a generally decent defensive team. Giving away outs taxes an already strained pitching staff in a way they can ill afford. Garcia has 15 total errors at all three levels in 2019, making 11 of them as a third baseman.

What also will happen fast is that his ability to clobber fastballs gets negated by not seeing them anymore, until he proves able to handle breaking stuff. A debut like his means upcoming opponents take notice that much more quickly and attentively, and it's clear there's no reason right now to throw him anything that's not curving.

If he's a part of things, he'll have time to settle in and respond, of course, but it's asking a lot of a kid for whom this already must be a whirlwind. If it works out positively, Garcia will add some pop to the back of the bench and be asked to make an occasional start, which will give him some high-leverage chances to run into one and launch.

Enjoy it all in the moment.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.