By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Outfielder Avisail Garcia has been one of the stories for the struggling White Sox in 2017. The 26-year-old Garcia has transformed his game and approach in a stunning turn of event following a lackluster, underperforming first three-plus seasons in Chicago.
With the organization in full rebuild mode, the White Sox front office is willing to listen to offers for just about nay player other than shortstop Tim Anderson or left-hander Carlos Rodon. Garcia is under club control through 2019, with salary arbitration awaiting the next two seasons.
Garcia has had a fantastic first two-and-a-half months to the season, as he leads the American League with a .339 batting average to go with 10 homers, 48 RBIs and a .934 OPS entering play Thursday. Many still believe Garcia needs to prove his worth for an entire season, but there’s no doubting that he has a continuity to his game that didn’t exist the past few seasons. Much has been made of Garcia’s weight loss. Initially, it was reported that he had lost 18 pounds from the fall of 2016 until spring training.
The truth is that Garcia had actually dropped 25 pounds from 2015 to 2016. What changed for him since the end of the 2016 season is that he’s redistributed his body muscle and strengthened his core. It’s led to a start that has him in line to be an All-Star.
Garcia has also cut down on his mental mistakes, always hustling out of the batter’s box, taking the extra base when it’s there and being in better defensive positioning.
“At age 26, you want to see the maturation of a player like Avi,” White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “He is now able to have more of an all-around approach to his game — baserunning, outfield play, hitting, strategy of the game. All of that is starting to happen. He is getting a lot better in the questions he is asking and the preparation he is doing before the game. We see that from him all the way around. He seems very committed to being a good ballplayer in general.”
Garcia’s future with the White Sox isn’t clear cut for general manager Rick Hahn and the rest of the front office. The $3 million he’s making in 2017 is minimal for the great return he’s providing.
“Avi has been able to see some inconsistencies in his game and adjust this season,” Steverson said. “‘I can do this all the time’ is the mentality we have seen from him. We saw it with men in scoring position last season. We are now watching him take it to his every at-bat approach.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.