New Cuban outfielder could see Cards' MLB roster this year
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) Cuban outfielder Adolis Garcia could make it up to the St. Louis Cardinals at some point this season, according to general manager John Mozeliak.
''In terms of skillset, I just feel like I would describe him more as a five-tool player, so from a defensive standpoint, above average, from an offensive standpoint, I think there could be some power,'' Mozeliak said Saturday.
Garcia, who turns 24 next Thursday, agreed Friday to a minor league contract with a $2.5 million signing bonus and was in camp Saturday ahead of the Cardinals' exhibition opener against Miami.
Garcia earned MVP honors in Serie Nacional, Cuba's highest league, in 2016 after hitting .319, with 14 homers and 71 RBIs in 81 games with 15 outfield assists. He then had a brief stint with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's Central League.
''Obviously there were other offers and there were other teams, but I picked St. Louis because of the tradition and because it is such a wonderful organization and I knew that I was going to identify with the team and fit in,'' Garcia said through an interpreter.
While Garcia worked out with the Cardinals on Saturday, he won't play in games until after he returns to his current residence in Haiti and obtains a U.S. work visa, a process expected to take a few weeks.
''He's a specimen, I'll tell you that,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Primarily a center fielder, Garcia can play all three outfield positions, a boon to the Cardinals as they look to add athleticism.
''It looks like he's in plenty good shape, so we'll just kind of put him out there and see how it comes together,'' Matheny said.
Garica is the younger brother of Adonis Garcia, who hit .273 with 14 homers for the Atlanta Braves last season.
''My brother has been my role model and has been the goal that I want to reach,'' Adolis said. ''Having him be in the position that he's in is really helpful to me to see where I want to end up eventually.''
A native of Ciego de Avila, Garcia played for Cuba during the 2015 Pan AmericaN Games in Toronto. One of his three home runs in the tournament gave Cuba a walkoff win over Puerto Rico in the bronze-medal game.