The New York Yankees signed infielder Wilkerman Garcia as part of the large international free agent spending spree in 2014. He signed for $1.35 million that year at 16-years old out of Venezuela and was ranked by Baseball America as the #7 prospect in the 2014 IFA free agent class.
After signing on July 2, 2014 Garcia went to start working out with the Yankees and in September 2014 reported to the Yankees Complex in Tampa for the Florida Instructional League. In instructs he impressed, showing off his skills and the Yankees assigned him to the Dominican Summer League Yankees to start off his professional career in 2015.
Wilkerman played in just 2 games for the Dominican Summer League Yankees in May and June 2015 and had 4 hits in 6 at bats, driving in 1 run, scoring 3 runs, walked once and stole 5 bases. The brief cameo was a tune up to get him ready for his season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees a month later.
With the Gulf Coast Yankees Garcia really impressed, in 37 games he hit .281 with 34 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triple while driving home 18 runs and walking 24 times. He stole an additional 6 bases in the rookie-league before season’s end. Baseball America rewarded him with being named the sixth best prospect in the Gulf Coast League for 2015.
After the regular season came to a close Wilkerman remained at the Yankees Complex to take place in the Florida Instructional League for the second consecutive year. This year he opened even more eyes, with scouts, coaches and other staff raving about his abilities on the field and his baseball instincts.
Some prospect evaluators have suggested to teams to ask for Garcia in trade talks instead of fellow Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo as some consider him to be better than Mateo at a similar age.
Wilkerman is a switch-hitting shortstop who has the chops to play the position long-term, showing off solid foot movement in the field, smooth hands and a plus arm this season. He uses all fields at the plate and puts the bat on the ball. He struck out 19 times in 127 at bats. He has a mature approach at the plate that evaluators love but is still developing his power.
As he grows into his body expect Garcia to start hitting homeruns and get more pop in his bat. Expect to see him start the 2016 season in extended spring training due to the depth of middle infield prospects the Yankees have in the lower minors. With that he could find himself as the starting shortstop for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League this season.