Cuban outfielder Garcia reports to Cards' camp

Recent signee won't be able to play until he acquires a work visa

Cuban outfielder Garcia reports to Cards' camp

JUPITER, Fla. -- A day after signing a Minor League contract with the Cardinals, Jose Adolis Garcia reported to camp for his first workout on Saturday. It will be a while longer, however, before he's able to showcase his skills in a game setting.

Garcia will not be permitted to participate in Grapefruit League play until after he obtains a work visa. The Cards hope that process is wrapped up by mid-March, though the timeline is uncertain. Regardless, the club does not expect Garcia to make a run at an Opening Day roster spot.

Garcia may, however, make a big league impact before the season is over, and that's one reason why the Cardinals were so intrigued when Garcia was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball two months ago. While most of international spending is used to procure teenage talent, Garcia is different. He'll turn 24 next week and he has played in Cuba's top professional league.

Last season, he was named the Most Valuable Player of that league after batting .315/.395/.517.

"A lot of times when you're making these long-term investments, it's about patience," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Here we have an opportunity to stick someone at a higher [affiliate] level and possibly even contribute at the Major League level at some point this year."

The Cardinals had already exceeded their international spending cap, but this signing was not subject to the same restrictions. As a result, St. Louis won't have to pay a penalty tax.

Garcia, who established residency in Haiti after defecting from Cuba, was described by Mozeliak as a five-tool player. The Cardinals see him fitting in center field, where he profiles as an above-average defender. Garcia is a plus-runner as well, and he labeled himself as "an aggressive player."

Garcia nabs runner at third

Garcia watched his older brother, Adonis, reach the Majors with the Braves in 2015.

"My brother has been my role model," Garcia said. "Having him in the position that he's in is really helpful for me to be able to see where I want to end up eventually. I would like to follow in his footsteps."

Garcia said he received offers from other clubs, but he choose St. Louis as his landing place "because of the tradition and because it's such a wonderful organization." He also felt comfortable joining a team that had another Cuban player, Aledmys Diaz, on the big league roster.

Garcia received a $2.5 million bonus for signing with the Cardinals.

"We've talked about athleticism, and it seems like he fits that," manager Mike Matheny said. "Watching his brother play the game, he's an exciting, dangerous player. ... It's going to be fun to watch [Garcia] go to see what kind of skill set he has."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.