The Angels announced Wednesday that they’ve claimed infielder Robel Garcia off waivers from the Mets, who designated him for assignment Monday to clear roster space for trade acquisition Jordan Yamamoto. The Angels’ 40-man roster is now up to 39 players.
The 27-year-old Garcia took an unconventional route (to say the least) to his 2019 Major League debut with the Cubs. The former Indians farmhand was out of affiliated ball from 2014-18 before the Cubs caught a look at him playing for a professional team in Italy. They brought him in on a minor league pact, and Garcia hit the ground running in Double-A. He earned a promotion to Triple-A after just 92 plate appearances and showed off mammoth power between those two levels, slugging 27 long balls in just 388 trips to the plate.
It took Garcia all of 98 games between Double-A and Triple-A to earn a call to the big leagues. In the span of a calendar year, he went from playing in the Italian Baseball League to starting at second base for the Cubs.
The Cubs gave Garcia 80 plate appearances in 2019. He responded with a tepid .208 average and .275 on-base percentage but still slugged .500 thanks to five homers, two doubles and two triples in that short time. Garcia also punched out in 35 of those 80 plate appearances, so while the raw power he possesses is plain to see, there’s some obvious work to be done on his approach at the plate. He still has a minor league option remaining, so the Angels can shuttle him between Triple-A and the Majors if he makes it to the end of Spring Training still on the 40-man roster.