Utility guys Robel García and Abraham Toro have both had a great Spring Training so far. But unfortunately, there’s only one roster spot to fill, so only one of them will begin the season on the Astros 26-man roster. The question is... Who’s the best option?
As for Sunday morning, García was off to a 4-for-10 start. That includes one home run, one run batted in, three scored runs, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Regarding Toro, he’s recorded four hits across 11 at-bats, with three doubles, two rubies, one scored run, three bases on balls, and three strikeouts.
To have a debate about this, we need to take a look back...
García —who’ll turn 28 years old on March 28— has a great story to tell. In 2010, he signed with the Cleveland Indians as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic, but never even made it to Class A advanced. The Indians released García on his 21st birthday and he took a very odd way.
The Dominican moved to Verona, Italy, with his wife and children. Over there, he played independent ball and even was part of the Italy team that played in the Super 6 Baseball Tournament back in 2018. Then, he was spotted by the Cubs and signed a Minors deal in November 2018.
García overcame everything and gave his life a 180º turn that year. He began the season in Double-A and, sooner than later, he went straight to Triple-A. After killing it in both affiliates, the unexpected happened: HE MADE IT TO THE BIG LEAGUES! In his SECOND career game, he hit his first home run and he finished the game a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
He played 31 games for the 2019 Cubs and slashed .208/.275/.500, but after that year, he was claimed off waivers for four different teams: Reds, Mets, Angels, and Astros, where he’s trying to crack the Opening Day roster.
Going back to Toro —who won’t turn 25 until December 20—, it’s a whole different story. He’s a product of the 2016 MLB Draft, where the Astros selected him in the fifth round after becoming a baseball star at Seminole State College in Seminole, Oklahoma.
Back in his first days as a minor-leaguer, Toro didn’t waste any time to show his ability to hit line drives, though he was struggling with consistency. However, those struggles ended after the 2018 campaign, as in 2019, Toro was entering his best season so far.
That year, he played 114 games between Double-A and Triple that were enough to knock the doors of the MLB team. Toro compiled 143 hits, 31 doubles, 17 home runs, 80 RBIs, 82 runs, and 52 walks, along with .324/.411/.527/.938 averages.
Those stats made the Astros select his contract and promote him to the Bigs. And despite having a rough start, he had two four-baggers and four driven in over his first eight games. As part of Toro’s 2019 memories, not only did he make the final out of Justin Verlander’s third career no-hitter, but he also produced the only two runs of the game with this home run:
So it’s time to pick only one to start the 2021 season — fortunately, both still have MiLB options according to FanGraphs.
Both of them are switch-hitters, which is nice when you’re talking about a bench bat. As a positive point for Toro, he gets fewer strikeouts than García, but the latter seems to have more home-run power. In fact, despite striking out 155 times in 2019 (across 468 PA in MiLB and MLB combined), he smacked 32 balls out of the park.
In terms of defense, García has made starts at second base, third base, shortstop, and left field in his professional career. Toro has appeared at first, second, and third so far with the Astros.
Although Toro seems to be the best option if you’re thinking long term, García is the most intriguing short term. After 58 MLB games and 186 appearances, Toro owns a .182/.269/.327/.596 slash line, so it’s not too crazy to think he could use some minor-league seasoning to put pressure off his shoulders and see whether he can translate his Minors numbers to the MLB at some point.
But, hey, it’s your call. What would you do? Would you pick Robel García or Abraham Toro to start the 2021 season? Give us your thoughts in the comments!