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Nashville’s Anthony Garcia punishing opposing pitchers

Longtime veteran minor leaguer Anthony Garcia is putting together a big season as he pushes towards reaching his big league dream.

Anthony Garcia / Oakland Athletics
Anthony Garcia is putting together a career year. / Oakland Athletics

NASHVILLE — Nashville Sounds’ OF/DH Anthony Garcia is almost always flashing an infectious smile. With the year he is having, he has every right to, as he appears to be blossoming at the plate as a hitter.

He leads the team with 19 home runs, which ranks him in the top-10 in the Pacific Coast League. His 80 RBIs also ranks him the top-10 in the league, as does his 27 doubles, 59 walks, and his 191 total bases.

Going into Wednesday, the 6-foot, 180 pound Garcia has an overall slash line of .258/.366/.469 for an OPS of 836 in 407 at bats.

Throughout the 26-year-old’s minor league career, which has spanned 10 years, Garcia has always showed some pop, but not like this year, and he is not exactly sure how explain it.

“I don’t really know,” he said while sporting his smile. “I’m just trying to keep the ball in play and [sometimes, once] the ball is going, it’s gone. I’m not really doing something different than other years, I’m just trying to grind [at-bats] and hit it with the best contact I can.

“I’m just trying to keep the ball in the middle of the field and stay true to the ball – that’s the only big key I got this year than the year before. Try to not cut my swing off and try to hit the ball with really good backspin. I try to stay as long as I can through the strike zone.”

When asked to elaborate on his definition of, “true to the ball,” Garcia said, “I’m trying to hit the ball more to the right side. Earlier this season, I was hitting to the gap and swinging for the fence and go for homers. The first month it’s cold weather, so I decided I was just going to get on base and that’s it. But when it got warm, I just tried to stay true to the ball, and I think that’s the big key for me right now.”

That, and walks. It’s an emphasis for him.

“The approach,” he said. “The approach has helped me a lot. I’m taking a lot of walks this year, too. I’m going to strike out a lot, too, but my on base percentage is really good [his .366 OBP ranks him in the top 20 in the league]. I think that’s the key for this outstanding year I’m having this year. – the approach I have at the plate and the walks.”

Originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 18th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Puerto Rico, all of Garcia’s 10 years in the minors came with the Cardinals’ organization before this year. He came to the A’s organization as a free agent after last year, but before joining the A’s in spring training, Garcia played winter ball and was named the MVP of the Caribbean World Series after hitting .500/.556/1.042 with three home runs, eight runs, and eight RBIs in six games.

“I was so happy for that. It was an exciting moment and I was so proud of myself for that,” he said.

Drafted a catcher, Garcia has a good arm. He played the position for three years before being moved to the outfield.

Now, he just flashes his strong arm on occasion.

“I show it when you’re supposed to show it,” he said with a smile and a laugh. “I don’t really it try to throw it so hard; I just try to be accurate.”

Garcia has 39 stolen bases in his career, but laughs when asked about running. To him, it is just a matter of watching the game develop and opportunity.

“When I see the pitcher taking so long to go to the plate, I know they’re not paying attention to me, so I take a chance, but I’m not really working on it,” he said. “I’m just really locked in on the bases. I like it. I like running bases. It’s more like the timing, [the pitcher’s] body language, and things like that, and I take advantage of it.”

Despite spending a full decade in the minors, Garcia has never thought of giving up, despite the hundreds of bus rides.

“I need to meet my dream, right?” he said.

Of course, he smiled while saying it.

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