Jose Garcia says he’s thankful to be playing baseball in the United States and to have enough money to help his family in Cuba. But there’s one thing he wasn’t so sure about during his first month with the Dayton Dragons.
“The toughest thing is the cold weather,” Garcia said through translator and teammate Narciso Crook. “I’ve never had to experience that before.”
Garcia, 20, signed with the Cincinnati Reds last summer for a signing bonus of $5 million. He was immediately slotted as the No. 12 prospect in the Reds organization.
“I’m grateful to God to sign with a major-league team and have the opportunity,” Garcia said. “The best thing is I’m able help out my family financially and play baseball every single day.”
Garcia, who lives in Miami in the offseason, wants to bring his parents, sisters, grandmother and other family members to live in the U.S.
Garcia has struggled in the cold weather and brought a .168 batting average into Monday night’s game against Cedar Rapids. But the game-time temperature was 73 and Garcia had one of his best nights.
Garcia had two hits and two RBIs to help the Dragons to a 3-2 victory over the Kernels for their seventh win their last eight games. The Dragons (16-12) moved into a third-place tie with West Michigan and are two games behind first-place Bowling Green in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
“I’m thankful that I was able to drive in two runs today and help the team win,” he said.
His RBI double in the fourth inning gave the Dragons a 1-0 lead and broke a run of 12 straight no-hit innings over the course of three appearances for Kernels starter Edwar Colina. In his most recent start, Colina pitched six innings to combine on a no-hitter with Jovani Moran. Garcia pushed the lead to 3-2 in the fifth with an RBI single.
“At first it was a little bit of a struggle mentally,” Garcia said. “But now I feel like I’ve made really good adjustments physically and mentally and things are going my way.”
Dragons manager Luis Bolivar is impressed with Garcia’s play at shortstop.
“He looks comfortable there,” Bolivar said. “He moves well, he’s got good range, good arm, footwork. It’s still a lot of work to do, but I think he’s got a pretty good chance.”
Bolivar also expects Garcia’s average to keep climbing the way it did Tuesday to .182 now that it’s warmed up. Bolivar grew up in Venezuela, so he understands why it was difficult to conquer the cold.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “You try block it from your mind, but you feel it. Now with the warm weather coming we’re going to see a different guy out there.”
Dragons tales: Hunter Greene will not make his scheduled start Tuesday. Greene, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, will start Saturday against Peoria. The Dragons said the change is part of a strategy to keep Greene at his pitch limit for the season. Green is 0-2 in five starts with a 13.97 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.
- Wendolyn Bautista (2-1) pitched 5 2/3 innings Monday to continue a recent trend of Dragons starters pitching deeper into the game. He allowed nine hits but walked only one, struck out seven and left with a 3-2 lead.
- John Ghyzel recorded his sixth save for the Dragons after allowing two baserunners in the ninth. Ghyzel has gotten half of the Dragons’ save opportunities and is one of six pitchers used in that role this season. He lowered his ERA to 1.64.