Watch CBS News

Levine: Avisail Garcia Hopes To Solidify Role

By Bruce Levine--

GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) -- Still only 24, outfielder Avisail Garcia has already been through the physical and mental wars of the baseball business in his brief tenure with the Chicago White Sox.

Garcia was billed by some as the next Miguel Cabrera when he made a successful debut with Detroit late in the 2012 season. Playing in the World Series that year, it appeared he would be a part of the Tigers' offensive hitting machine for years to come.

Instead, one year later he was a part of a three-team trade that sent him to the White Sox in a deal involving right-hander Jake Peavy. His 2014 season was undermined by a shoulder separation that had him on the disabled list for the majority of the season, then high hopes in 2015 never seemed to turn into reality for Garcia, who hit .257 with 13 homers, 59 RBIs and a .675 OPS in 148 games.

"He has trouble with the above average fastball," an American League scout who has seen him play dozens of games said. "He has that slumped-over approach and never appears to make good contact on the inside pitch. He should be a better player. He has bat speed and a good arm in the outfield. His defense leaves something to be desired as well. For some reason, he regressed from what the projections were for him."

The White Sox have tinkered with Garcia's batting stance this offseason. Hitting coach Todd Steverson has revamped Garcia's crouch into a taller stance and a bit more spread out.

"I feel really good with my swing," Garcia said Tuesday when he reported to spring training. "I have been working hard getting ready in the winter. I am just 24 years old. The more you play, the more experience you have. I hope to put all these things together this year. When they change your approach, there is a good reason for it. If it takes two or three weeks, it's OK. After that, I should be consistent with my new swing."

The White Sox and Garcia were extremely disappointed his 2015 results. A total of 32 extra-base hits -- 13 homers, two triples and 17 doubles -- in 148 games won't get it done going forward. Garcia hit .257 and had a slash line of .309/.365/.675, which screams backup outfielder.

To be fair, Garcia was playing his first full big league season last year.

"He has made some adjustments," manager Robin Ventura said. "He knows the position he is in right now. He knows what is in front of him and what has been said about him. Today we watched him take some swings, and you can notice the little adjustments he has made. For us, we feel he is still a young player. There is some talent there that has to come out."

The door is wide open for Garcia to have a breakout season. If not, 2016 could be make-or-break for him to establish himself as an impact player.

"I know they (Sox management) believe in me," Garcia said. "I believe in me too. I have been working really hard, and I know I have a lot of talent. I need to keep working hard and trust myself."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.