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Reds call up top SS prospect Garcia

@m_sheldon
August 26, 2020

Losers of four consecutive games and five of the last six, the Reds shook up their roster on Wednesday with the addition of a prized prospect, calling up shortstop Jose Garcia. Garcia is the organization’s No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Before Wednesday’s game was postponed after both the

Losers of four consecutive games and five of the last six, the Reds shook up their roster on Wednesday with the addition of a prized prospect, calling up shortstop Jose Garcia.

Garcia is the organization’s No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Before Wednesday’s game was postponed after both the Reds and Brewers voted not to play as a protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., the 22-year-old was in the starting lineup and batting eighth.

“I’m very fortunate. I feel very lucky to be helping out the Cincinnati Reds,” Garcia said via translator Jorge Merlos. “I was in my room and I got a call to go to the manager’s room, David Bell’s room. That’s where he told me. They told me I was on the team and gave me congratulations for being part of this team.”

During his first big league Spring Training as a non-roster invite, Garcia wowed while hitting a club-leading four home runs and dazzled defensively before camp was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every time I look at him, I think Xander Bogaerts,” Reds pitcher Wade Miley said. “I played with Xander [in Boston] in '15 and he looks just like Bogey. I keep having flashbacks every time I see him walk through the locker room. Definitely excited [for] what he can contribute to this ballclub and see what happens.”

Now displaced from a regular lineup spot, veteran shortstop Freddy Galvis will have a utility role.

This will be a big jump of levels for Garcia, who had been stationed at the alternate training site before being summoned to the taxi squad for the road trip. Last season for Class A Advanced Daytona, he hit .280/.343/.436 with eight homers and 55 RBIs. That included his .378 average with three homers in August.

Had there been a Minor League season in 2020, Garcia would likely have started at Double-A Chattanooga.

Cincinnati signed Garcia out of Cuba for $5 million near the end of the 2016-17 signing period for international players. During his brief time in the system, he has impressed with his range, arm, bat and athleticism.

“Really mature beyond his years. He’s still a very young player. It was the right time to add him to the team, to bring him here,” Bell said. “For a young player to join a team at this time, it really only makes sense if they’re going to play a lot and get a lot of starts and get a lot of playing time.

“That doesn’t mean he’s going to play every inning of every game, but we really went into this committing to giving him an opportunity to play, and we believe, just by being the best version of Jose Garcia, he’s going to contribute to helping our team win without trying to do too much. So it was the right time.”

Strop DFA’d
To make room on the 40-man roster for Garcia, reliever Pedro Strop was activated from the 10-day injured list and designated for assignment. Strop was signed to a one-year, $1.825 million contract on Feb. 5 and expected to be an upgrade for the back portion of the bullpen.

Strop’s Reds tenure lasted four games and 2 1/3 innings with three runs (one earned), one hit, six walks and three strikeouts before going on the IL with a right groin strain on Aug. 11. The emergence of relievers like Lucas Sims and Tyler Thornburg made the right-hander expendable.

“It was simply there just wasn’t a spot for him on the roster, and he was healthy,” Bell said. “While he was injured, some guys stepped up and became part of our bullpen.”

In another move, outfielder Travis Jankowski was optioned to the alternate site but added to the taxi squad.

Votto given vote of confidence
With Garcia supposed to start at shortstop, Bell had planned to shift Galvis to second base and Mike Moustakas from second base to first base, with Joey Votto left out of the lineup. Votto, who was ejected after striking out four times in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss, is 0-for-18 in his last five games.

“There’s zero question in my mind that Joey Votto is part of our best lineup,” Bell said. “He’s part of our best self, moving forward, our best team, and we anticipate that. And as great as Joey has been, he’s obviously human. The results haven’t been there for him recently, just like they haven’t been for a lot of our team. It felt like the right thing, and this is my call.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.