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Washington Nationals’ Luis García tearing up Triple-A pitching; working on defense at short

Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked on Wednesday about how Luis García is doing at the plate and in the field with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders v Rochester Red Wings Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

Following his 2 for 4, two-home run game on Tuesday night for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, the Washington Nationals’ top minor league affiliate, 21-year-old infielder Luis García was sporting a ridiculous .360/.407/.613 line with three doubles, two triples, and four home runs through the first 17 games of the 2022 campaign.

Garcia played second last night, but has spent most of the first month (13G) at shortstop, as the club transitions him back to his original position, after he played second in the majors in 2020-21.

He made 11 errors in 99 chances at short in the 2021 season, and four early this year, but his manager in Rochester, Matt LeCroy, told Federal Baseball’s David Driver earlier this week the young shortstop has picked up his game after a shaky start to the season on defense.

LeCroy said that while García made some errors in the first series of the season, he’s put in the work to improve defensively.

“He has worked hard every day since,” LeCroy said. “He has basically had a pretty clean series at home and then on the road; he played mostly at second in Spring Training.”

“Offensively,” the manager added, “he is in a really good spot, the best I have seen him.”

Big league skipper Davey Martinez talked to reporters last week about why they haven’t rushed García back up to the majors the way he’s swinging it, especially with the club’s struggles offensively in the first month and shortstop Alcides Escobar struggling on the offensive and defensive ends.

“He’s been hitting the ball really well,” Martinez said, as quoted by NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich:

“I talked to LeCroy about him. He said he’s really hitting the ball; he’s working really good at-bats. The flip side is that he needs to get better on defense. We talked to him and he’s working, he’s working hard to get better. He’s working on his footwork, working on being a little bit quicker…setting his feet when he throws, things of that nature.”

As good as he’s been offensively, it’s about being more well-rounded as a player.

“It’s not just about hitting with him,” Martinez added.

“It’s about the overall game and when he comes here, he’s going to come in and play every day. Whether it’s shortstop, whether it’s second base, we don’t know that but we hope that he can play shortstop for us in the future. So we need his defense to be crisp and clean.”

Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo reiterated the club’s approach to García’s development when he talked about the infielder’s progress with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies Wednesday morning.

“He’s playing great,” Rizzo said. “Swinging the bat well. He’s making a transformation back to shortstop full-time, he’s playing every day at shortstop this year. That’s where we want him to play. We bounced him around the last season playing second base and shortstop, at the big league level it was almost exclusively at second base, so he is learning to play shortstop at a high level at Triple-A. He’s always been a good offensive player in the minor leagues, we just want to make sure he’s got his feet underneath him when gets here and plays shortstop every day in the big leagues. We know he’s the future at shortstop, we recognize that [Escobar] is struggling at the big league level and Luis is thriving at the minor league level offensively, but I want to make sure that he’s prepared to play all facets of the game in the big leagues when he gets here, because when he gets here he’s going to play every day, and we’re going to rely on him because he’s a big part of the future.”