The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have signed Cuban free-agent outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to the team’s Major League Spring Training camp. Garcia, who turns 24 on March 2, was the MVP of Serie Nacional (Cuba’s top professional league) in 2016 and was declared a free-agent by Major League Baseball last December.
“As we continue to look for ways to add talent to the Cardinals organization, we are grateful for the efforts of Moises Rodriguez (Director, International Operations) and Matt Slater (Director, Player Personnel) in helping us to do so,” stated Cardinals’ Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak.
The younger brother of Atlanta Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia, Adolis played for Tigres de Ciego de Avila, leading them to back-to-back Serie National championships in 2015 and 2016 and another title in 2012.
The right-handed hitting Garcia batted .315 with a .395 on-base pct. and .517 slugging mark last season during his MVP campaign and hit .322 in 2015.
Garcia, a native of Ciego de Avila, played for Team Cuba during the July, 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and belted three home runs, including a walk-off shot to defeat Puerto Rico in the Bronze Medal Game. He also played for Cuba against the Team USA National Collegiate team during the June, 2015 Friendship Series in North Carolina.
Garcia played briefly for the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League last season. He will be assigned uniform no. 75 for Spring Training.
Jose Adolis Garcia had ranked on Baseball America’s Top Cuban players at #20. He 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.
Sources: St. Louis Cardinals\Baseball America