Reds will struggle to keep red-hot Jose Garcia in the minor leagues

MESA, ARIZONA - MARCH 01: Jose Garcia #38 of the Cincinnati Reds in action during a preseason game. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
MESA, ARIZONA - MARCH 01: Jose Garcia #38 of the Cincinnati Reds in action during a preseason game. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

We all know that Cincinnati Reds‘ top infield prospect Jose Garcia can handle the rigors of the shortstop position defensively. Last season’s brief stint with the big league club proved that. However, Garcia’s early-season returns at the plate will make it very difficult to keep the team’s shortstop prospect in the minor leagues.

Garcia leads the Chattanooga Lookouts in OPS (1.040) and ranks fourth in the entire Double-A South division. Garcia’s four home runs lead the team as well and is only one off the pace set by a trio of Birmingham Barons.

Jose Garcia’s future with the Reds looks bright.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound shortstop was in tremendous physical shape when he arrived in Goodyear this past spring. Garcia got his taste of the big leagues last season, and it was apparent that the Reds front office views him as the shortstop of the future. In my opinion, that was the reason for Cincinnati’s lack luster pursuit of a major league shortstop this offseason.

In 16 games with the Lookouts this season, Garcia has six doubles, a triple, four round trippers, and 16 RBIs to go along with a slash line of .323/.394/.645. The 23-year-old is blossoming into a star before our very eyes.

The question then becomes, how long will it be before we Garcia in a Cincinnati Reds uniform patrolling the infield dirt at Great American Ball Park. I tend to think we’ll have to wait until next season, but Garcia’s production may force Cincinnati’s hand.

How long will Eugenio Suarez be the Reds starting shortstop?

The Cincinnati Reds made the conscience decision this past winter to avoid paying top-dollar for a proven shortstop and entered spring training with Kyle Farmer as the most likely option. The hot hitting of Jonathan India forced Cincinnati to pivot and insert Eugenio Suarez at shortstop, which allowed Mike Moustakas to man the hot corner and India took over at second base.

As we’re about to enter the third month of play, it’s become apparent that the Suarez to shortstop experiment isn’t going how the Reds front office had hoped. Suarez has looked terrible defensively at shortstop, and the absence of Moustakas, Joey Votto, and Nick Senzel has seen Geno return to third base.

Suarez is not a shortstop; plain and simple. However, with India’s emergence and a overflowing of talent in the Reds outfield forcing Senzel onto the infield dirt, David Bell has a huge problem on his hands. How can he appropriately allocate playing time to his best players.

Shogo Akiyama, whom the Reds signed to a $21M deal prior to last season, has been relegated to a bench bat. India has seen a nosedive in his playing time as well, as the Reds finally made the right call to play Senzel at second base rather than center field. The roster construction is a mess, and add to that the stellar play of Jose Garcia, the Reds are going to have to make some trades.

How much longer can the Reds keep Jose Garcia in the minors?

If Jose Garcia continues his offensive assault on Double-A pitching, the Cincinnati Reds will have no choice but to promote the young infielder to Triple-A Louisville. That will buy the front office a little more time to figure out how to handle things at the big league level.

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Cincinnati, by all accounts, should keep Garcia in the minor leagues for the remainder of the 2021 season, but by Opening Day next year, expect him to be the team’s everyday shortstop. That gives the Reds front office a little less than a year to sort out the roster mess they currently have on their hands.