Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s KC Royals Projections series for 2022. Between now and Opening Day, our writers are analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Today we consider infielder Maikel Garcia.
Mention the name “Maikel” in a conversation about KC Royals infielders and be prepared to hear about third baseman Maikel Franco, who signed with Kansas City for 2020, enjoyed a successful season, and then found himself non-tendered and out of a job when the club set its 40-man roster after the campaign.
Franco moved on to Baltimore last season and now works in the Washington organization after signing a minor league deal with the Nationals in December.
The Royals, though, still have a Maikel, and he’s worth knowing about.
Maikel Garcia has been in the Kansas City system since signing with the club in 2016 as an international free agent. But after 2017, his first professional season, the future didn’t seem especially bright.
Garcia, then only 17, hit just .213 in the Dominican Summer League and had a troubling .277 OBP over 173 plate appearances.
Fortunately, that performance remains the worst of Garcia’s four-year minor league career. He split 2018 between the DOSL and the Royals’ Arizona rookie club and although his average dropped a point, his OBP increased 34 points to .311 and he stole 20 bases in 52 games. Improvement continued in 2019—between rookie level clubs Burlington and Idaho Falls, Garcia hit .284. Most impressive, though, was his .349 OBP.
Like most minor leaguers, Garcia missed the 2020 campaign and wasn’t selected for the Royals’ 60-man Player Pool that worked that summer at their Alternate Training Site. But last season was his best ever.
Garcia started the year at Low-A Columbia and, after hitting .303 with a .409 OBP in 51 games, made the jump to High-A Quad Cities where he hit .281 with a .351 OBP. He finished at a combined .291, .380 with 35 steals, and his four home runs exceeded his previous career total by three.
What can the KC Royals expect from Maikel Garcia this coming season?
Garcia certainly won’t make it to Kauffman Stadium this season, and probably not next. The Royals are simply too rich in infield talent.
But it will be difficult for the Royals to keep him in High-A; any time he spends at Quad Cities should be short at best, and he’ll get to Double-A Northwest Arkansas soon if he doesn’t begin the season there. Look for Garcia to have a good 2022—a .270-.280 year with a .340 OBP and 30-40 stolen bases isn’t out of reach. He’ll spend most of the season in Double-A, and perhaps get a cup of coffee at Triple-A Omaha before the campaign ends.
Maikel Garcia is on the rise. Expect him to move up the Royals’ minor league ranks this year.