In his couple trips to Williamsport to work with Crosscutters hitters, Andy Tracy has always made a point to pick out two hitters during batting practice who pique his interest. One of them is catcher Wilson Garcia.
It always seemed to be an interesting take, considering he hadn't had a batting average above the Mendoza line since June 22. But Tracy, the former Cutters manager turned Phillies minor league hitting coordinator, has always said that with regular playing time, Garcia would be a dangerous hitter.
Tracy always brought up how Garcia had a knack for getting the barrel of the bat on the baseball. But Garcia is in a tough position, behind 18-year old Deivi Grullon on the Cutters' catching depth chart. Grullon is a consensus top 10 prospect in the Phillies' organization who has played in 34 of Williamsport's 49 games. So it hasn't left a lot of playing time for Garcia, who played in his 20th game in Saturday's win over Aberdeen.
But it was in that win when Garcia proved Tracy's statements prophetic. Garcia was 3 for 4 Saturday night, driving in two runs with a single in the fourth inning to give Williamsport a lead it never surrendered.
It was just the second multi-hit game of the season for Garcia, but his second during the homestand. His batting average vaulted more than 50 points in that time.
"He finds a way to get the ball to the barrel," Cutters manager Shawn Williams said following Saturday's win. "I don't know if he's broken a bat yet this year. He finds the barrel all the time. He even hits into hard outs."
But it wasn't just what Garcia, a 20-year old Venezuelan, did with the bat which made Saturday night such a success. He was in total sync with starting pitcher David Whitehead and reliever Edubray Ramos as the two combined on a four-hitter.
And just for good measure, he also threw out the IronBirds' Jay Gonzalez trying to steal second in the third inning. Garcia has been a solid defensive catcher every time he's crouched behind the plate this year, and that caught stealing was his sixth in 10 attempts. His 37.5 percent caught stealing rate actually leads the Cutters.
"We have guys like Wilson who can swing it and get behind the dish and throw guys out consistently at second base," Cutters center field Aaron Brown said. "To win games, those are the little things that add up."
Wilson Garcia has always been an asset to a Crosscutters team which entered Sunday's game against Aberdeen just three games behind Connecticut and Brooklyn in the race for the New York-Penn League's Wild Card spot. He's almost always sporting a smile during batting practice, but always changes to a serious look when it comes time to swing the bat.
"He's the same person all the time and you know what you're getting all the time," Williams said. "It's fun when you see a guy who's playing hard to finally have some success and get something to fall in."
Everything Garcia did Saturday night benefited someone else on the team. Throwing out Gonzalez trying to steal neutralized Aberdeen's running game the rest of the night, taking weight off Whitehead's shoulders.
His two-run single in the fourth inning allowed the Cutters' offense to relax after a rough 10-day stretch, leading to better quality at-bats throughout the lineup. And his calling of the game behind the plate put Whitehead and Ramos in spots to succeed.
It was a brilliant all-around performance from a player who already has the respect of his teammates and coaches.
"We were just on the same page the whole night," Whitehead said. "There were a couple times we disagreed, but we'd always get right back on it. He was fantastic."
Edubray Ramos was a bit of an unknown quantity when he was promoted to Williamsport from the Gulf Coast League last month. A 21-year old Venezuelan relief pitcher, Ramos has quickly made fans and coaches take notice of him.
He threw three perfect innings in Saturday's win over Aberdeen, notching his first save since being promoted. It was his ninth save of the season over three level of the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league system, and he seems poised to make a quick rise through the system.
Ramos has topped out at 96 mph with his fastball this year, according to pitching coach Aaron Fultz. And more impressively, in his 8 2/3 innings since joining the Crosscutters, Ramos has yet to allow a hit. The only baserunner he's allowed came on a hit batter.
He's been overpowering with a fastball he commands in the zone, and a wipeout slider which has been all but unhittable. And for good measure, he adds in a pretty good change-up with good arm action just to keep hitters honest.
"My favorite thing about him, he pitches and gets right back on the rubber. Someone with that kind of stuff who is ready to go quickly, it's tough to hit off those guys," Williams said. "He's got great command so far from what we've seen. He's got that great fastball and guys want to get to that fastball as soon as possible, and he takes advantage of that with a really good breaking ball and a change-up."