Another prominent Cuban player has left the country to pursue a contract with a major league team. The latest to leave, according to multiple sources, is 24-year-old outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia, the brother of Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia.
Garcia, who had ranked as Baseball America’s No. 20 player still in Cuba in our April 2015 rankings, was one of the most tooled-up players in Cuba, with 60 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale and a plus-plus arm. While he played mostly right field for his Ciego de Avila team in Cuba’s top league, Serie Nacional, he has played center field during international tournaments and looked comfortable there, with the tools and athleticism that should allow him to play center field in pro ball.
At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Garcia has quick bat speed from the right side of the plate and performed well this past season (2015-16) in Cuba, batting .315/.395/.517 in 380 plate appearances with 14 home runs, 34 walks and 59 strikeouts to go with 11 stolen bases in 17 attempts. While Garcia’s numbers on the surface were among the best in Serie Nacional last season, his long swing, free-swinging approach and struggles to recognize offspeed pitches are significant concerns about his ability to perform against better pitching.
Once Major League Baseball clears Garcia to sign, he will be exempt from the international bonus pools, which means he can sign without restrictions. That’s still a long ways away, though. Garcia will need to obtain residency in another country, and while MLB seemingly fast-tracked the Gurriel brothers into free agency, other players have been out of Cuba for more than a year and still haven’t received MLB clearance to sign. Garcia isn’t major league ready right now, but based on his present ability, he should be able to handle an assignment to Double-A or Triple-A.
Garcia most recently had been playing in Japan this summer for the farm team of the Yomiuri Giants, though he struggled there and was released after batting .234/.274/.396 in 117 plate appearances. His lack of plate discipline hurt him, as he drew just six walks (one intentional) and had 37 strikeouts.
For the Cuban national team preparing for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, losing Garcia is another blow to their hopes of even making it past pool play. Garcia played center field for Cuba in the 2015 Pan American Games in Canada, where his walk-off home run sealed a bronze medal for Cuba, and he went to the Dominican Republic in February with his Ciego De Avila club to play in the Caribbean Series.