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Washington Nationals’ Luis García on learning from Juan Soto early in big league career...

Luis García watches Juan Soto closely. And he should.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Davey Martinez talked over the final week of the 2021 campaign about where he saw Luis García, the Washington Nationals’ 21-year-old second baseman, make the biggest strides during the course of his second season in the majors.

“He’s definitely getting better at second base, you know,” Martinez said.

‘The biggest thing, as we see, his numbers against lefties have been way better, and he is staying in there a lot better against lefties. We’d like to see him do that more against right-handed pitchers.”

In 37 games with the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate, Triple-A Rochester, García put up a .326/.388/.674 line against left-handers in 2021, and he had a .293/.364/.566 line vs right-handers.

He put up a .323/.356/.444 line in 104 PAs vs righties in the majors during 2020’s 60-game campaign, and .143/.143/.143 line in 35 PAs vs lefties.

In the majors in 2021, García, a left-handed swinging infielder, put up a .221/.260/.395 line against righties, and a .297/.318/.453 line against lefties, though he hit 11 of his 18 doubles, and five of his six home runs off of right-handed pitchers.

“He often tries to get really quick against right-handed pitchers,” Martinez said late this past September.

“We want to probably have him utilize more the middle of the field, when he does that he’s really good, so but it’s going to be a continuing work in progress.”

García signed with the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, for a $1.3M bonus, and he worked his way up to Double-A in the Nats’ system in 2019 before injuries at the big league level created an early opportunity for him to jump to the majors before he probably would have otherwise during 2020’s COVID campaign.

GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at the end of the 2021 regular season, that there were plenty of positives and some areas to focus on going forward with García.

“He’s made some highlight plays, and he’s had some concentration lapses. He’s 21 years old,” Rizzo explained. “I had some concentration lapses at 21, so we’re going to give him a break about that, but he’s a terrific young talent, and we just have to put our arms around him and just be patient. Like a lot of young players.”

Rizzo did note, however, that he saw enough from García that the infielder is considered to be the frontrunner for the second base job in 2022.

“I think that he’ll have every opportunity to be our everyday second baseman, he’s a good young player, he’s got great bat speed, and he’s got good power.”

García hit 21 home runs in 1,534 PAs between the minors and majors from 2017-2020, then hit 19 in 406 PAs between Triple-A and the majors in 2021.

“I think it’s something that’s definitely developed over time,” García said of his increased power in a mid-September Zoom call with reporters.

“I’ve worked hard in the offseason to get my swing right, worked a lot on my swing, staying on my back side more, and like I said earlier, trying to stay in the middle of the field and opposite field as much as possible has helped me a lot, so it’s something that I’ve worked hard, and have to continue working hard on.”

In his time in the majors, García added, he’s learned a lot.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot,” he explained. “Try to maintain myself in the middle of the field, and move over a little bit, but this season has been a great learning experience.”

In a late-September call, García said he has a good role model in the nation’s capital, with a 22-year-old Juan Soto and his second-half tear providing a great example of what it takes to excel at the big league level.

“I’ve learned a lot. A lot,” García told reporters. “And not just in this little stretch. But ever since I’ve known him and ever since I’ve been up here, I’ve learned a lot from him.

“Obviously, staying back on my backside as well as he does, and the focus that he has every at-bat, I’m trying to put that into play as well, and keep learning. I still am learning a lot from him, and just watching him play, a very great player, and I’m just trying to pick up as much as I can.”