Nats prospects shine in Fall League opener

No. 2 prospect Garcia piles up 4 hits; righty Sharp tosses 3 scoreless

September 19th, 2019

PHOENIX -- Less than 30 minutes before the start of Monday night’s matchup between the Surprise Saguaros and the Glendale Desert Dogs, Washington infield prospect Luis Garcia was busy signing autographs for the lucky fans that recognized him at Camelback Ranch.

He was cheered by another group near home plate as he trotted back to the Saguaros’ dugout after taking a few photos.

They knew who Garcia was even before he stepped into the batter’s box. Now everyone in the Arizona Fall League does, too.

Garcia, the club’s No. 2 prospect, and a group of Nationals pitching prospects had an impressive AFL debut, leading the Saguaros to a 4-2 victory against the Desert Dogs in the first game of league play for both teams.

The shortstop, who at 19 is the third youngest player in the AFL, finished with 4-for-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base.

“I feel really good about what happened tonight, and it’s good to get off to a good start and help our team win,” Garcia said in Spanish. “What I really want to do here is learn as much as I can and get better. This is a good league with lots of competition. It’s going to be fun.

Not to be outdone, right-handed pitcher Sterling Sharp, the Nats’ No. 13 prospect, lived up to his name with three scoreless innings. He didn’t allow a hit, struck out four and walked one batter to help set the tone for the Saguaros.

“I felt like it went well,” said Sharp, who was slowed earlier this season by an oblique injury. “The sinker was getting in on guys and I had a good feel for the slider. The changeup worked out after the first inning. I had a good feel for three pitches today.”

Fellow Nats prospect Andrew Lee followed with two strikeouts and no hits allowed in two scoreless innings and Nick Raquet, the club’s No. 29 ranked prospect, allowed one hit and struck out three in two innings to cap off a fine night for the organization.

In all, that’s one hit allowed and nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings for the Nationals’ prospects.

“We had a good group of guys come in and all three of threw well,” Sharp said. “It was fun to be a part of.”

In the first inning, Garcia singled to left field, stole second base and later scored his team’s first run on a single by Nats’ catching prospect Jakson Reetz -- who finished with two hits -- for a 1-0 lead. Garcia doubled in the third and scored on a single by Royals first base prospect Travis Jones to extend the lead to 2-0.

Yankees prospect Josh Stowers added a solo homer for the Saguaros, while Rangers No. 8 prospect Bubba Thompson walked and scored for Surprise.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo and Dodgers outfield prospect Jeren Kendall each hit home runs for the Desert Dogs in the losing effort. Conner Capel (Cardinals) had the only other hit for Glendale.