You asked for him, you got him.
Cubs team president Theo Epstein announced today that the Cubs would be promoting Robel Garcia to the majors. In a corresponding move, the Cubs will send relief pitcher Dillon Maples back down to Iowa.
Garcia has been the story of the Cubs minor league system this year. Garcia was a middle infielder in the Indians system from 2010 to 2013. At the time, he was known for showing impressive power in batting practice and not much of anything in games. The Indians released Garcia before the 2014 season, and he never played above low-A Lake County in the Indians minor league system.
Garcia, a native of the Dominican Republic, then left the United States to play in the small Italian professional league. There, he married an Italian woman and earned his way onto the Italian National Team. He played five seasons in Italy.
This past off-season, the Italian National Team was in Arizona to take on a group of Reds minor leaguers. A Cubs scout was there to scout the Reds, but ended up falling in love with Garcia instead. The Cubs ended up signing the 26-year-old Garcia to a minor league deal and then sent him to Double-A Tennessee.
Garcia wasn’t long for Double-A. After hitting .295/.391/.590 with six home runs in in 22 games, the Cubs promoted him to Triple-A Iowa. Garcia didn’t slow down much there either. In the 50 games he played for Iowa, Garcia hit .281/.352/.596 with 16 home runs.
Sahadev Sharma has a terrific introduction to Garcia in The Athletic. (subscription req.)
Garcia is a switch-hitter with power from both sides, although he hits for a higher average from the left side. He’s got a lot of swing-and-miss in his game and he will be challenged to make contact against major league pitchers. If he does make contact, however, look out. I don’t think anyone in Iowa hits the ball as hard as Garcia does, and I’m including Ian Happ. I would not term Garcia a “three-true outcomes” player because he does hit singles and doubles, but if everything goes right, Garcia will strike out a lot, draw fair amount of walks and hit a lot of home runs.
Defensively, Garcia looked awkward at both second base and third base early in the season, although he looked better at second base as the season went on. The Cubs have also had him play left field over the past week or so. For someone who had never played the position before, Garcia looked solid out there, although admittedly it’s a small-sample size.
Garcia is not in tonight’s starting lineup. It’s unclear whether or not he will be activated in time for tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.
There was an open spot on the Cubs 40-man roster, so no one will have to be designated for assignment to promote Garcia.