WASHINGTON - It will be hard to beat Juan Soto when it comes to making a quick impression.
But Luis García, 20, is giving it a good shot – with his latest milestone getting to bat fifth in the order in his fifth Major League game.
That is the case for manager Davey Martinez, whose lineup for the home game Friday night against the Marlins has García hitting fifth.
“I kind of like — he puts the ball in play, and that’s kind of what we’re looking for,” Martinez said before Friday’s game. “He’s not afraid, so we kind of like that. We liked the matchup today with him. We’ll see what we have. I explained to him no matter where you hit in the lineup, after your first at-bat you’re just a part of the lineup, so you’re going to go up there and get many opportunities to do different things, so just keep working the ball up the middle.”
In his first four games as the youngest player in the majors, García is 6 for 17 (.353) with a double, homer, four RBI, and an OPS of .977. He hit in the No. 6 hole in his first four games.
“The first thing about Luis that impresses you is not the tools, which are abundant, but is his innate confidence,” co-field director Tommy Shields in player development told Federal Baseball. “Luis has a ton of confidence. He is always smiling on the field. He never lets an at-bat bother him. He is always thinking he is going to do great things. That is a tremendous tool to have.”
The Nationals have gotten younger with the addition of infielders Carter Kieboom and García, among others.
“For me, it’s not — one, what I encourage them to do is just come out and them being who they are,” Martinez said. “Not to try to do too much. Just go out there and have fun. And I enjoy it. I catch myself teaching every single day, which I kind of enjoy. I have conversations with them and try to teach them about the game and how to play the game up here and what to look for and what not to look for.
“For me, it’s been a lot of fun. Plus, they make me feel a little younger, because they’re always joking around and goofing off. So, it’s fun to have them around, and especially the guys that we’ve got. These are a couple of our top prospects and they’re getting a chance to play, and it’s fun to watch them succeed. It really is. They’re loving it. They’re keeping the other guys with a lot of energy, so it’s been a lot of fun,” Martinez added.
Soto, the left fielder, was called up from Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League in May 2018. He hit two homers in his first three games; Soto hit second in the order in his fifth contest in The Show. The sixth game in the MLB career for Soto came at Miami – the opponent for the Nationals this weekend.
García also skipped over Triple-A Fresno – he played last year in 129 games at Harrisburg and hit .257, and spent time at the alternate site in Fredericksburg before joining the taxi squad last week in New York.
The infielder from the Dominican Republic had two hits in his MLB debut one week ago then hit his first homer on Monday at Atlanta.
In a normal season, García most likely would have played at Triple-A Fresno or been closer to D.C. while at Harrisburg to start 2020.
“I always say, when they do make a mistake, just try to talk to them the next day, let them know what happened and go over the situation with so we limit those same mistakes over and over again,” Martinez said of younger players. “You know we’ve got a great coaching staff, you guys know that I don’t micromanage my coaching staff, but we have conversations every day of what we want to do with some of these younger players and we’re all on the same page. Any one of those guys could go up to any one of my coaches and talk to them about it, and if they don’t have the answer we’ll find the answer for them, but they’ve worked really good with these guys.”