Cal League Prospect Notes: Dodgers’ Yunior Garcia Scorching Hot For Rancho Cucamonga

Image credit: Yunior Garcia (Joey Perez/Rancho Cucamonga Quakes)

Few prospects have been hotter than Dodgers first baseman Yunior Garcia the last five weeks.

Garcia, 21, has hit .430/.504/.730 for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga since July 16, the highest batting average and fifth-highest OPS in the minors during that time. He has 12 doubles, six home runs and 30 RBIs in 25 games during that span, as well as almost as many walks (14) as strikeouts (15). After Garcia hit just .214 with three home runs the first two months of the season, it’s been one of the biggest turnarounds in the minors this year.

“He’s got a lot of confidence right now and he’s leading the team,” Rancho Cucamonga manager John Shoemaker said. “He’s a threat right now.”

Garcia was the Dodgers’ most prominent signing during the 2017-18 international signing period, but he struggled with an assortment of injuries and didn’t make his full-season debut until this season. A center fielder when he signed, Garcia has filled out his large frame and is now strictly limited to first base or the corner outfield, where he is a well below-average defender.

Whatever his positional shortcomings, Garcia’s bat has awakened and made him a force. He showcased his improving feel to hit and massive power in an Aug. 19 game against Modesto last week, going 5-for-5 with three home runs and hitting every ball over 100 mph.

In his first plate appearance, Garcia hit a home run off Mariners No. 16 prospect Michael Morales that cleared the trees beyond left field at LoanMart Field. The ball left his bat at 110 mph and traveled 489 feet, according to Trackman, longer than all but two home runs in the majors this year (and both of those home runs came at Coors Field).

In his second plate appearance, Garcia hit a home run to center that traveled 406 feet and left the bat 100 mph. In his third plate appearance, he hit a game-tying RBI double to right-center that registered a 101 mph exit velocity. In his fourth at-bat, he hit a single through the left side that again checked in at 110 mph.

In his fifth and final plate appearance of the night, Garcia hit his third home run of the game, sending a ball 412 feet over the opposite way over the wall in right-center. The ball left his bat at 103 mph.


It was a stunning display of all-fields power, and one of the best individual games in the minors this season. As impressive as it was, it’s hardly an outlier in the context of how Garcia has been hitting the last month-plus.

“He’s made a lot of improvements since the beginning of the season,” Shoemaker said. “Timing and confidence and seeing pitchers and understanding what they might be trying to do to him. Gotta give him a lot of credit. He’s made a lot of adjustments.”


Yeiner Fernandez began the year playing behind Dodgers No. 1 prospect Diego Cartaya as Rancho Cucamonga’s starting catcher. As such, Fernandez understandably struggled with inconsistent and limited playing time.

Since Cartaya’s promotion to High-A Great Lakes in early June, however, Fernandez has blossomed. The 19-year-old Venezuelan has hit .350/.440/.546 since taking over as the Quakes primary catcher following Cartaya’s promotion and is currently on a 10-game hitting streak. Overall, he has reached base in 38 of 40 games since becoming the starting catcher.

Fernandez has had a bit more trouble on the defensive side, making 17 errors and allowing 15 passed balls in only 54 games behind the plate. He did show off his premium arm strength against Modesto last week, throwing out Nuts catcher Harry Ford at second base with a perfect throw on the bag that scouts in attendance clocked at 1.79, 1.81 and 1.83 seconds—all elite pop times. 


When the Mariners traded top prospect Edwin Arroyo to the Reds as part of the four-player package for Luis Castillo at the trade deadline, it created an opening at shortstop for Modesto.

Axel Sanchez saw the opportunity and ran with it.

Sanchez, 19, has been one of the breakout prospects of the second half in the Cal League after being called up from the Arizona Complex League to replace Arroyo as Modesto’s starting shortstop. The young Dominican has hit .378 with six home runs and 29 RBIs in only 18 games since being called up while showing exceptional defensive ability at shortstop.

Originally signed for $290,000 during the 2019-20 international signing period, Sanchez has shown soft hands, a quick transfer, a strong, accurate arm and surprising range that has exceeded his amateur projections. Most impressively, he’s shown the ability to make plays on the run in all directions and perfectly execute relays, skills not often seen from teenagers at the Low-A level.

With Arroyo traded, Mariners officials acknowledge Sanchez is now the best defensive shortstop in the system. Combined with his loud offensive showing in his full-season debut, he has quickly become one of the Mariners’ most intriguing low-level prospects.



Angels catcher Edgar Quero has been one of the top breakout prospects in the low minors this year with Inland Empire, rising from the Angels No. 28 prospect entering the year to their No. 4 prospect following the trade deadline.

If he can keep it up, the switch-hitting catcher has a shot at winning the Cal League batting title.

Quero currently ranks fourth in the Cal League with a .315 batting average. The three players ahead of him—D-backs third baseman Deyvison De Los Santos (.329), Padres first baseman Carlos Luis (.319) and former Mariners shortstop Edwin Arroyo (.316)—are all no longer in the league. De Los Santos and Luis were promoted to High-A and Arroyo is now in the Florida State League after being traded to the Reds at the deadline.

Unless De Los Santos or Luis are sent back down, all three will be short of the minimum number of at-bats to qualify for the league batting title at the end of the season. That means Quero stands to rise to the top spot provided he maintains his hot hitting ways.

Among players still in the league, Rancho Cucamonga’s Garcia (.305) and Fresno shortstop Adael Amador (.299) are Quero’s closest competitors.

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