Garcia contributes in big-league debut for Reds

Dayton’s Jose Garcia bats during Tuesday night’s game vs. Lansing at Fifth Third Field. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Dayton’s Jose Garcia bats during Tuesday night’s game vs. Lansing at Fifth Third Field. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Shortstop makes debut three years after Reds signed him

The Cincinnati Reds reached the halfway point of the 60-game season with two of their most important victories of the season Thursday.

The Reds (13-17) were desperate for one win after matching their season-worst four-game losing streak. They got two, sweeping a doubleheader from the Milwaukee Brewers in convincing fashion with a 6-0 and 6-1 victories.

“For our team, it’s big to win two games,” manager David Bell said. “Well-played games. Well-pitched games. Our starters were outstanding, and the bullpen came in and did a good job. When you can get through a doubleheader with two wins against a good team after a tough road trip, it’s really important. A lot of guys contributed.”

One of those was 22-year-old shortstop Jose Garcia, who made his big-league debut in the first game. He started and went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.

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Entering the season, Garcia ranked fifth among Reds prospects, according to MLB.com. The Reds signed Garcia, who’s from Cuba, when he was 19 in 2017, giving him a $5 signing bonus. He made his professional debut with the Dayton Dragons in 2018, hitting .245 with six home runs and 53 RBIs in 125 games.

Garcia played the entire 2019 season with the Daytona Tortugas in the Florida State League and was named the Reds’ minor league hitter of the year. He hit .280 with eight home runs and 55 RBIs in 104 games. He led the Florida State League in extra-base hits (46).

That was as high as he rose in the minor leagues before this season. The Reds invited him to spring training and then included him in their player pool when Summer Camp began in July. He had been at the alternate training site at Praso Park in Mason until Tuesday when the Reds added him to the taxi squad as he joined the team in Milwaukee. They then promoted him to the big leagues Wednesday.

Garcia said Bell called him into his office to deliver the news. Garcia then immediately called his family to share the news.

“I feel phenomenal,” Garcia said. “I feel excited. I feel grateful for the opportunity to come out here and help this team.”

Garcia became the youngest Reds player to make his big-league debut since outfielder Yorman Rodriguez, who was also 22, in 2014. He became the youngest Reds player to start at shortstop in his debut since Kurt Stillwell (20) in 1986.

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Freddy Galvis started 24 of the first 28 games at shortstop with Kyle Farmer getting the other four starts at the position. With Galvis hitting .222, Garcia could get extended playing time.

Bell said the coaching staff got to know Garcia in spring training and he had an excellent spring, hitting .269 with four home runs in 13 games.

“He’s really mature beyond his years,” Bell said. “He’s still a very young player. It was the right time to add him to the team, to bring him here. For a young player to join the team at this time, it really only makes sense if he’s going to play a lot and get a lot of starts and a lot of playing time. That doesn’t mean he’s going to play every inning of every game, but we really went into this committed to giving him the opportunity to play. Just by being the best version of Jose Garcia, he’s going to contribute to helping our team win without trying to do too much.”

FRIDAY’S GAME

Cubs at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410

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