Luis Garcia: Nationals 2020 Rookie Of The Year
As the youngest player in the majors at age 20, second baseman Luis Garcia played well enough to earn nearly everyday at-bats for the final six weeks of the season.
He even belted a game-winning, 427-foot homer in the top of the 10th inning against Rays reliever Nick Anderson, who didn’t allow another run in 16.1 innings in 2020.
“I’ll tell you right now, he has no fear,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s going to give you everything he’s got.”
Garcia’s energy came as no surprise to team officials and other top prospects at the club’s alternate site in Fredericksburg, Va.
Righthander Jackson Rutledge was among those who complimented Garcia for how he “kept things loose” during workouts there. Then, once Garcia was called up to replace the injured Starlin Castro, he approached the game the same way he did on his way up through the minors, where he was usually the youngest player in his league.
“He goes out there and has fun, and he’s done really well—so it’s good to see,” Martinez said. “He’s still learning, and he’s got a lot to learn and he knows that, but he wants to learn and he’s processing everything fairly well.”
Garcia hit .276/.302/.366 with two home runs in 134 at-bats. Though he drew just five walks while striking out 29 times, the lefthanded-hitting middle infielder showed progress after a .257/.280/.337 trial in 525 at-bats at Double-A Harrisburg in 2019.
Garcia, whose father Luis played in eight games for the 1999 Tigers, signed for $1.3 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. He has played mostly shortstop in the minors but also has seen considerable time at second base and some at third.
During Garcia’s time with the Nationals, he had the chance to learn from fellow Dominican Juan Soto. Though Soto still is just 21, he has a World Series ring and a batting title and has cemented himself as one of the smartest hitters in the game.
“Being that Juan is super young as well, for him to actually take Garcia and teach him what he has learned so far is pretty awesome,” Martinez said.
— The most effective of the Nationals’ rookie pitchers was 29-year-old righthanded reliever Kyle Finnegan, who went 1-0, 2.92 with 27 strikeouts and 13 walks in 24.2 innings.
— Yadiel Hernandez, the Nationals’ minor league player of the year in 2019 when he hit 33 home runs at Triple-A Fresno, made history in his first major league stint. At age 32, the Cuban outfielder became the oldest player to hit a walk-off home run as his first big league homer. His blast helped spoil the Phillies’ playoff chances.