Maikel Garcia's ceiling is closer to Nicky Lopez than Bobby Witt Jr.
There is no rookie from 2023 that I am more skeptical about their long-term prospects than third baseman Maikel Garcia. The 23-year-old infielder made his promotion undeniable and he returned to The Show in early May. Since then, he has played Gold Glove-caliber defense at third, but I cannot see him being a franchise cornerstone like many fans do.
Garcia came up through the minors like many Royals prospects do. He was a glove-first shortstop, reflecting his cousin and former Royal Alcides Escobar. A sudden power surge in 2022 skyrocketed his prospect status. Combine that with inept play at third base earlier this season, fans clamored to see more of the Venezuelan.
Royals fans had their wish answered. Garcia will play more than 120 games in 2023, 100 of them being at third base. the natural shortstop's glove translated nicely to third, considering he leads all American League third basemen with 12 outs above average and a 4% success rate added. He was not too shabby at the plate either, posting a .275 batting average at the top of the Royals lineup.
A Gold Glove-caliber defender, high-contact batter batting leadoff, with decent speed on the basepaths? Who does that remind you of, namely from 2021?
Everything about 2023 Garcia mirrors 2021 Nicky Lopez is too close for my comfort. The style is eerily similar and the production edge still goes to 2021 Lopez. At least Lopez's production at the plate still landed him above league average in 2021, with a 104 wRC+.
Garcia is well below that mark this season, currently sitting at 86 wRC+. That does not make Garcia a bad player considering his work in the field. But, the fact remains that Garcia is not a perfect player and lacks the superstar potential that other Royals have.
Royals fans need to temper their expectations regarding Garcia. He has been a notably worse batter in the season's second half and posted an overall negative win percentage added. The numbers say that Garcia is not a sure thing, and could be a flameout candidate a la Nicky Lopez.