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Tigers prospect Avisail Garcia.
It was a mid-March conversation in Jim Leyland's spring training office in Lakeland.  The skipper had just watched Avisail Garcia show off his skills in the first two weeks of camp.

Leyland's assessment of the young talent hinted that he was impressed with what he saw.   

“He has all the tools," Leyland said that day.  "He should be an above-average big league player."  When pressed, Leyland did admit, “He’s not ready for this (big leagues) yet if that’s what you’re asking."

I'm not sure if Leyland has changed his mind, but fast forward to late August, and Garcia surely made an impression when he was added to the Tigers 25-man roster on August 31st.

After earning the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year Award this season, the Tigers moved to place him on the roster just in time to make him eligible for the post season. 

His skills were on display, as he showed a terrific arm in right and a competent bat.

Garcia displayed no signs of intimidation during his first taste of major league life.  He hit .319 in his first 23 major league games, and was 5-11 in four ALCS games against the Yankees with 3 RBI's.

Is he ready for an expanded role in the big leagues in 2013?  We still don't know for sure, but the next month will provide us with some clues.  Garcia is spending the off season playing winter ball in Venezuela, against top notch competition.

Garcia is expected to hit for power at the major league level.  His 6-4 240 pound frame points to the probability.  Yet, in 76 major league plate appearances in 2012 (including the post season), he had just one extra base hit. 

While the lack of power was noticeable, so was his ability to go the other way.  Of his 15 hits in the regular season, 11 were hit to center or to right field.  Pretty impressive for a young hitter.

Each off season, Venezuela is one of the winter destinations for the game's top prospects.  This season is no different.  The Royals Jeremy Jefress, the Phillies Darin Ruf, Carlos Sanchez of the White Sox and the Tigers Bruce Rondon, to name a few, are all playing in Venezuela.

The competition will be good, and if Garcia can shine, he becomes a real candidate to break camp with the Tigers in 2013.

 


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