White Sox hoping Garcia takes next step

White Sox hoping Garcia takes next step

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don't view Avisail Garcia's 2016 season as a potential comeback opportunity.

It would be more accurately described as a chance for the 24-year-old outfielder to establish significant personal history.

"I'd view him more as a guy who still has, at his age, a world of potential and the ability to convert on that potential," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "What we've seen from him down here in Arizona has all been positive, and solid indications that he's headed in the right direction."

Garcia's 2015 campaign was subpar both on the offensive and defensive side, leading to a debate over his value as an everyday player. He has 1,098 career plate appearances, meaning to some that a trend has been set in terms of his expected production.

That debate grew louder when the White Sox strongly pursued but came up empty trying to add high-end free-agent outfielders Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes. But if the South Siders were able to bring in one of those two, they still intended to develop Garcia and had no intentions of giving up on him.

Offseason changes were made. Garcia's hands were lowered, his stance in the batter's box is more erect and his head position was changed to give him a better view of the pitches during his swing. Those adjustments and Garcia's ensuing hard work paid immediate dividends with a Cactus League team-high in RBIs.

The White Sox want Garcia to be able to pull the ball more, which he has done during Spring Training. There's even a little bit of swagger attached to this young talent.

"I don't know if it's swagger, but it's great if he has it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's better if he understands what he needs to do and why we're asking him to do certain things.

"Before, he might have been a little confused about why he needs to do that. In the past, everybody was pretty happy with him hitting singles. He understands, with his stature, he needs to be able to get it in the air."

Steverson on Garcia, Davidson

A three-team trade with Detroit and Boston in 2013 brought Garcia to Chicago and began the organization's revamping-while-trying-to-contend process. The term "five-tool talent" was thrown around in connection to Garcia, but that idea stands more as a hope than an expectation as part of a more experienced, talented team.

"I'm trying to take good pitches and learn about the situations in the game, that's all," Garcia said. "I just prepare myself to get ready and make the adjustments that I need."

"He has been willing to incorporate different things given where he was at the end of last season," Hahn said. "Now he has been able to see a little bit of success from those changes, which only reinforces his confidence and commitment."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.