Back in 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals selected a Florida prep catcher with their 20th round pick. That catcher, Aramis Garcia, would not sign a pro deal with the Cardinals and chose to attend Florida International University. It is well-noted that Jeff Luhnow played a large role in drafting amateur talent for the Cardinals in his years in their front office, so there's no question about Luhnow's connection to Garcia, who is one of the nation's top catchers. Though Garcia was not highly-regarded coming out of high school, he has shown a ridiculous amount of growth in his time at FIU, and it's not just the Luhnow Effect that makes him an interesting candidate for the Astros in the second or third rounds of next week's draft.
Garcia's hitting statistics have improved every year at FIU, culminating in an impressive .368 average and .626 slugging percentage this spring. Garcia has hit 25 home runs over his three years at FIU, including eight so far in this year's campaign. His walk rates have improved dramatically this season, as he's drawn 25 walks against 23 strikeouts in 163 at bats.
Garcia's has a quiet approach at the plate and has an equally quiet and short swing to the ball. His swing is line-drive oriented and gives him plenty of opportunity to send pitches to the opposite field. He has solid gap power right now but those doubles could turn into home runs as he develops at the plate.
Defense is a huge part of evaluating players when it comes to catchers. Garcia's skills behind the plate are solid right now, and probably close to major league average right now. He stands at 6'2'', 200 lbs. and has an athletic body that will serve him well as he matures behind the plate. Though he won't ever have the otherworldy catching abilities of Yadier Molina (who does?) Garcia does everything very well and has no weaknesses defensively. His arm was clocked as above major league average as a high schooler three years ago and has only gotten better and he receives and frames pitches comfortably. I can't give a great estimate on how his glove would prospectively rank among MLB catchers down the line, but there should be no concerns about any of his defensive abilities, and I could envision them grading out as all plus tools.
Catchers are some of the most cerebral players on the baseball diamond, and Garcia is no exception. Garcia is said to have great makeup and his grades are excellent.
Garcia's catching skills look as solid as any player in the draft, so he could be a solid catcher that shuttles between AAA and the majors for a number of years at the very least.
We've talked about Garcia's catching skills at length, but his bat will determine how far he gets at the professional level. The hitting skills he currently exhibits look a lot similar to what Yadier Molina has offensively, so I'll stick that as his ceiling especially if he keeps hitting for power at the professional level. Defensively, he has the ability to solidly hold down a starting job for a while.
Projected Draft Round
Garcia comes in at number #69 on MLB.com's draft rankings. He's probably headed for the back of the second round or third right now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a team jump at him early in the second.
Will He Sign?
There shouldn't be any signability concerns with Garcia.