The New York Yankees signed infielder Dermis Garcia as an international free-agent on July 2, 2014. At the time, the 16-year old Garcia played shortstop and was ranked the ninth best international free agent by Baseball America. The Yankees paid Dermis Garcia $3.2 million, the same amount that New York gave All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez back in 2009.
The biggest concern with the towering 6’3″ shortstop was whether or not his insane pop and raw power would carry over stateside, and his rookie campaign seemed like a bit of a wake-up call for the young Dominican. In 78 plate appearances with the Gulf Coast Yankees, Garcia slashed to an ugly .159/.256/.188 with a horrid 32.1 K%. His power was nowhere to be found, as he recorded zero home runs and just six RBI through his first 23 games. Perhaps the one silver lining to his first taste of pro ball was he managed to earn a walk in nearly 12% of his plate appearances.
Fortunately, Dermis Garcia was certainly no ‘wise-fool’ in his sophomore campaign. In 57 games played with the Pulaski Yankees, an 18-year old Garcia improved his slash line to .206/.326/.454, but perhaps his biggest jump was in OPS, where he improved from a terrible .445 OPS in 2015 to a .780 OPS. Even more comforting for the New York Yankees was Garcia’s display of power and his ability to adjust to minor league pitching. In 194 at-bats, Garcia launched 13 home runs, nine doubles, and 24 RBIs. He even had a streak in which he homered in four-straight Appalachian League Games. Per Fan Graphs, Garcia’s isolated power improved from a terribly low .029 in 2015 to a rather impressive .247 in 2016. His 13 home runs in 2016 were second-most in the Appalachian League behind Bradley Jones of the Toronto Blue Jays (16), but with his improved power, we also saw Garcia’s strikeout percentage rate elevate to 34.3% of the time because of his big aggressive swing, which leads to a lot of whiffs.
Last season was a huge success for Garcia. The Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native began the season with the Pulaski Yankees and earned a mid-season promotion to Single A Charleston. While in Pulaski, Garcia slashed .270/.397/.565 while smacking nine homers, five doubles, and collecting 25 RBI’s. In Charleston, Dermis drove in 20 with connecting for eight home runs, and six doubles. He slashed .227/.312/.518 across 30 games. In total Garcia hit career highs in games played (63), at-bats (225), hits (56), doubles (11), triples (2), home runs (17), RBI’s (45), and walks (38), batting average (.249), on base percentage (.357) and slugging percentage (.542). The 6’3” righty struck out 81 times in 225 at-bats, improving upon the prior season which saw him strike out 79 times in just 194 at-bats.