June 2010: Garcia signed with the Cardinals, via scout Matt Swason, for a bonus of $75,00 after being drafted in the 7th round, out of the University of Hawaii. Greg had been a Western Athletic Conference first-team shortsop.
In 2014, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Garcia as the Cardinals 14th-best prospect in the Cardinals organization. He was at #21 in the offseason before 2015 spring camps opened. And a year later, early in 2016, Greg was at #20.
Greg is the grandson of former MLB manager Dave Garcia (Angels in 1977-78; Indians of 1979-82). And Greg's dad, Dave, was a 1978 first round draft pick of the Yankees.
As for Greg, he has never been the biggest or the strongest. But he went on to break through his supposed ceiling by maximizing what he is—an incessant worker with terrific baseball instincts and a yearning to succeed and extend the legacy of his family.
The first chapter began more than 90 years ago, just across the river from St. Louis, where his grandfather, Dave, grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois and discovered baseball. The son of Spanish immigrants, Dave Garcia beat a path to Sportsman's Park as a member of the Cardinals' Knot Hole Gang, watching a parade of future Hall of Famers lead the franchise through its first championship era of five World Series appearances from 1922-26.
The sport evolved from job to career after Dave signed a professional contract with the St. Louis Browns in 1937. He went on to play 15 seasons as a minor league infielder. He moved into a managerial role while still playing, eventually making it to the Majors in 1970 as the third base coach for the Padres. He earned his first big league managing opportunity with the 1977-78 Angels, followed by a stint at the Indians helm in 1979-82.
Along with a variety of roles in scouting, Dave's career spanned eight decades, through his final job as a coach for the 2000-2002 Rockies. Dave Garcia was 96 as of the beginning of the 2017 season, and the oldest former big league manager. When Dave retired at 82, his grandson Greg, was 12.
"I was able to see things that most 10- and 11-year olds would never be able to see," Greg said. "And I've always told myself that I want to make the most out f those opportunities because there are a million kids who would have traded anything in the world to have been able to do what I did at a young age."
Buddy Bell played for Dave Garcia in Cleveland and said of Greg, "His grandpa taught all of the boys the correct way to wear a uniform—with eye black and a batting glove hanging out of his back pocket. In typical Garcia fashion, they treat the game better than anyone else did."
When it came to instructing his grandson, Dave kept things simple. "Don't let a fastball strike hit a catcher's glove," was his most predictable piece of advice, which seemed so rudimentary, but always struck Greg as more profound. That was because it took baseball back to its purest form, making it less about mechanics and more about fun. Such perspective helped guide Greg to the Majors. (Jennifer Langosch - Cardinals Magazine - April, 2017)
Garcia ha always been seen as being like a coach on the field.
Greg Garcia arrived on the University of Hawaii campus by way of Southern California, where, as a junior, he received a mailing from a Hawaii baseball program that he didn't even know existed. Curiosity led him to do an Internet search, at which time he discovered that not only was there a program, but a thriving one. The team had just enjoyed a 45-win season in 2006 that featured an NCAA Regional invite and a swell of local support. Kolten Wong knew all of that already, having long followed the team that played just an island hop away from his home on Hawaii's Big Island. And he was known, too.
Once Garcia enrolled at Hawaii, it didn't take him long to start hearing the legend of the high-school star from Hilo who had given his verbal commitment to join the Hawaii baseball team a year later. Before actually meeting his future college, Minor League and Major League teammate, Garcia saw the gaudy numbers Wong put up in his senior season and heard what he could do on the football field.
Wong's decision to bypass pro ball after high school led him to become teammates and fast friends with Garcia. They played alongside each other for the first time in 2009, the first of now six seasons in which they have been on the same team. And after winning the NL Central as Cardinals' teammates in 2015, they were off on a post-season journey
"Unbelievable," said Garcia. "We just looked at each other and said, 'Dude, did you ever think we'd be in the same Major League clubhouse and celebrating like this?' You dream about it, but you know the chances of that happening are pretty slim."
"Those are two great ambassadors and representatives for our program, not just because they are playing on the highest stage of baseball, but because, if you spend five minutes with them, you realize what quality people they are," said Mike Trapasso, a St. Louis native who has been Hawaii's head coach since 2002.
Wong described Garcia as "like my big brother" when he arrived on campus. Garcia helped Wong assimilate to college life, and Wong returned the favor by showing Garcia some hidden spots and swimming holes around the island. They became instantly close off the field and admirers of each other's' game, on it. [He was a] super high-intensity guy who loved trying to get a team going no matter what the circumstances were," Wong said of Garcia, who played primarily at short during college. "He was a good all-around player."
Wong and Garcia became middle-infield partners in 2010 and were then split up when Garcia was drafted by the Cardinals. During his first year in the Cardinals' system, he started being asked about the 5-foot-9 second baseman he had played with in college. It was part of the pre-draft prep work the Cardinals did before making Wong their first-round selection in 2011.
Knowing each other better than most Major League teammates do, Wong and Garcia have a constant exchange of ideas. They know what to look for in each other's swing and approach, understand what to say or not say when things aren't going well and value each other's perspective on the mental part of the game. The trust between the two is true and unique.
"You know that we're there for each other for the right reasons," said Wong.
"It's been just a really, really good friendship," added Garcia. "It's kind of come full circle. Oh, and I'm glad I was nice to him in college because he really takes good care of me now."
"You could definitely see that those two guys, being the double-play combo and strength up the middle, were close friends," Trapasso said. "I've always felt that Greg is one of those grinder kids with a great baseball IQ. Kolten, you combine the talent with the makeup and you have a potential All-Star. In all honesty, it hasn't surprised me to see both make it." (Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com./2015)
Jan 25, 2017: How will Greg Garcia fit into the Cardinals infield mix for the 2017 season? Though he distinguished himself as one of baseball's best pinch-hitters in 2016, Garcia garners little attention for how his presence could impact the 2017 team. Unless injury issues arise, it's likely that Garcia will settle back into a bench role, yet that's not the expectation he intends to carry into Spring Training.
"My goal is to compete for a starting job," Garcia said. "I think a lot of people just kind of label you a utility guy, this and that. But I feel like I work too hard to not set my goals that high. I want to try to win a starting job at one of those positions and see what happens.
"Being the kind of hitter that I am where I work counts, I think I pride myself at having a pretty good idea of knowing where the strike zone is at, and I think that's going to translate when you don't get those at-bats every day," Greg said. "To have plate discipline, you can have that when you get out of bed. I try to go out there and compete when I get those at-bats.
"I'm not just trying to go into Spring Training and accept [that] I'm not playing every day," Garcia said. "No one in that clubhouse wants that. You work way, way too hard to try to play part-time. You have to have that mindset. If you don't, you're going to get passed by. You've got to want to be the best." (J Langosch - MLB.com - Jan 25, 2017)
May 12, 2017: The wife of a former first-round draft pick, daughter-in-law of a longtime Major League coach, and mother to three baseball-playing boys, Belinda Garcia has spent much of her life surrounded by the sport. But while Greg Garcia, a utility infielder for the Cardinals, may have learned the sport from his grandfather and father, his mother's impact was equally as significant.
"I've always said that I think she was actually harder on me sports-wise than my dad was," Greg Garcia said. "My dad was always a softie. When I was in Little League, if I would get out, I would cry. Every time. It was unbelievable. And my dad would let me get away with it. But if I cried after a game, my mom would be like, 'Hey, stop crying.' She wouldn't take it.
"But she was always very encouraging and was always there for me. She's just been such a big influence on my life. She's the best mom in the world, and I'm very lucky." (J Langosch - MLB.com - May 12, 2017)
Greg's career in professional baseball began in 2001, when at 12 years old, he spent a season as a bat boy for the Rockies. For one mile-high summer, Garcia fetched foul balls and racked helmets while brushing shoulders with the likes of Todd Helton, Larry Walker, Mike Hampton, and Juan Pierre.
It was the kind of big league "opportunity a lot of kids don't have," Garcia said when reflecting on the death of his grandfather. Dave Garcia, whose six-plus decades in the game included stints managing the Angels and Indians, died in 2018 in San Diego. He was 97.
"It's sad, but he lived such a great life," Greg Garcia said. "I can't even count the amount of people that have come up to me and said your grandfather did this for me, or did that for me. And it's not just baseball people. The cameraman in San Diego said my grandpa had an effect on him. The ticket lady said the same thing to my dad. That's the thing I'm most proud of being his grandson, the people he affected. It's something my entire family strives to do, affect people in a positive way. I'm very lucky."
Dave Garcia was in his mid-70s when he joined the Rockies' coaching staff in 2000. He was manager Buddy Bell's bench coach the following summer, which Garcia spent in the dugout alongside his grandson. An East St. Louis, Illinois native, Dave Garcia also worked three years on the Padres' big league staff in the 1970s, and he managed in the Minors for the Padres, Giants and Angels. He managed the Angels from July 1977 until June 1978, and the Indians from 1979-1982.
Greg Garcia wasn't expecting to leave the Cardinals following his grandfather's death. He said his family would hold the funeral in November 2018 so more members of the baseball industry can attend.
"My grandpa gave me a lot of opportunities that a lot of kids don't have, and I know I always wanted to make the most of it," Greg Garcia said. "The last time I saw him was the 2017 offseason. I gave him a hug and told him I loved him. It was a really nice moment. I feel really good about the way I left things with my grandpa."
While Garcia doesn't plan to go on bereavement leave, he is expecting to leave the team sometime in the near future for the birth of his first child. Garcia and his wife, Hannah, are expecting a baby girl they plan to name Olivia, in June. (Trezza & Collins - mlb.com - 5/22/18)
- June 5-7, 2018: Greg was on the paternity list..
|DOB:||8/8/1989||Agent:||Pro Star Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||El Cajon, CA|
|Draft:||Cardinals #7 - 2010 - Out of Univ. of Hawaii|
Garcia posts good batting averages with some pop. He is a lefthanded hitting middle infielder who gets on base a lot.
- Greg needs to handle the bat better, especially to become adept at dropping down a bunt. (Spring, 2015)
Garcia normally displays good plate discipline.
In 2015 for the Cardinals, Garcia showed a real knack for pinch-hitting. He was 9-for-26, a .346 batting average.
Matt Swanson, a former Cardinals crosschecker, spotted Greg at the University of Hawaii, said, "Greg has always just had a knack to find a way to get on base, take an extra base, and then score a run.
"I think so much of that is pure instinct over ability," Swanson said. "From a makeup standpoint, the two players who are so different from the pack at the moment you meet them are Garcia and (Stephen) Piscotty. They were wise beyond their years—so mature, so level-headed, so grounded that they don't get fazed."
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Greg had a career batting average of .248 with 180 hits, 10 home runs and 57 RBI in 725 at-bats.
Greg is a good-fielding shortstop with an arm that plays better at second base. He also does a decent job at third base.
Garcia knows baseball inside and out. He knows how to position himself for success, and anticipates a hitter's tendencies.
Garcia profiles as a big league utility man.
He is a steady defender with smooth actions.
Greg has only a fringe-average, 45 grade arm.
A shortstop in college, Garcia split time between short and second as he rose up the ladder in the Cardinals' organization, with an occasional turn at third base. There's no denying Garcia's ability to play any of the three positions paved his path to the Majors.
"For me to be able to stay in the big leagues, I need to be able to move around," Garcia said. "I'm a realist. I see guys who can do things I can't do. That's not to say that I don't have confidence in my abilities, but that's me understanding myself as a baseball player.
"When everyone is health, that means I'm probably a utility player giving guys days off, being a tough out and being a good teammate," Greg said.
- With the Cardinals, Garcia regularly plays three infield positions—second base, third base, and shortstop. (2018)
- Garcia maximizes his solid-average speed. He is a good baserunner.