Wilkerman Garcia signed with the New York Yankees for $1.35 million as an international free agent July 2, 2014, out of Maracay, Venezuela, by Esteban Castillo. He was ranked by Baseball America as the 7th top prospect in the entire 2014 international signing period.
Garcia made is professional debut for one the Yankees Dominican Summer League (DSL) (Rookie) teams. He quickly earned a promotion to the United States after showing a strong performance in the DSL. Garcia made his stateside debut by playing for one of the organizations two Gulf Coast League (Rookie) teams. In a combined 39 games, Garcia hit .299 (28-127) with six doubles, a triple, 19 runs batted in, 23 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases. He reached base in an astonishing 35 games, earning a .414 on-base percentage. Following the season, Baseball America ranked Garcia as the number six prospect in the Gulf Coast League.
Following a strong first season, 2016 was nothing shot of a disaster for the highly-touted prospect. Wilkerman spent the entire season with the Pulaski Yankees (Rookie) and slashed a miserable .198/.255/.284 at the plate. In 54 games, Garcia drove in 13 runs and collected a total of 44 hits in 22 at-bats. He also committed 14 errors at short in 233 total chances, giving him a .940 fielding percentage.
Even after a lousy season, Wilkerman was once again promoted. This time the youngster made his Single-A debut for the Staten Island Yankees (Single-A – Short Season). He performed slightly better than his prior season, hitting .222 at the plate and earned a .929 fielding percentage at shortstop. His strength has not advanced as scouts had projected a couple of years ago as he collected just 10 doubles, three triples, and one home run, leading to a very pedestrian .552 OPS. Another concern for Garcia was his strikeout numbers increased, while is walk rate decreased.
Some scouts have questioned his ability to stick at the shortstop position long-term, but the Yankees organization has not shown these concerns. On a 20-80 scouting scale, MLB.com gave Garcia an initial 60 arm, 55 fields, 60 run, 55 hit, and 40 power grades to begin his career.
Baseball America has given Garcia a 60-overall prospect grade with extreme risk, due to his young age and lack of experience in the higher levels of the minor leagues.
Scouts rave about Garcia’s switch-hitting ability as he has initially shown the skill set to use the entire field from both sides of the plate. He has earned high praise for his makeup and tremendous work ethic and has an incredibly high ceiling which could allow him to develop into a five-tool player.
With age and strength, Garcia should produce more power. He has a very nice projectable frame, coupled with above average bat speed. Baseball America has noted Wilkerman’s commitment to improving his explosiveness, flexibility, strength, and speed.
Garcia should repeat this entire season in Staten Island, as it would be a shock to see him play a game in Charleston given his performance over the past two seasons. At the young age of 19, Wilkerman does have another season or two to prove himself. Look for him to start to rebuild his once-impressive prospect stock with a much-improved season this year for the Yankees.