Avisail Antonio Garcia
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 240 lb.
Garcia was signed by the Tigers in 2007 (the scouts were Alejandro Rodriguez and Pedro Chavez) and made his pro debut the following year with the VSL Tigers, hitting .298/.342/.449 with 7 home runs and 34 RBI in 63 games. He was among the Venezuelan Summer League leaders in home runs (tied for 4th with Quintin De Cuba, Luis Alvarez and Rogelio Noris), total bases (110, tied for 4th with Marco Yepez), slugging (5th, between Noris and Henry Henry) and hits (73, tied for 5th). He was named the VSL Tigers Player of the Year.
Coming stateside in 2009, he began the year with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, appearing in 3 games before being sent to the West Michigan Whitecaps. He hit .264/.289/.324 in 81 games for the Whitecaps, putting together an 11-game hitting streak in August. He had 13 outfield assists but 10 errors. In winter ball, he went 0 for 3 with a run for the Caribes de Anzoategui. Back with West Michigan the next summer, he improved to .281/.313/.356 while cutting his error total to 6 in 125 games. He stole 20 bases in 24 tries. Strike-zone judgement was an issue, with 20 walks to 113 whiffs in 524 plate appearances. Baseball America still rated him as the #9 prospect in the Detroit chain. With the Caribes in 2010-2011, he was 1 for 13.
Garcia returned to Lakeland in 2011, hitting .264/.297/.389 with 11 homers and 56 RBI. His BB/K rate got even worse with 18 walks to 132 strikeouts. He was third in the Florida State League in strikeouts, trailing only Wade Gaynor and Daniel Fields. Baseball America ranked him as the 10th-best Detroit prospect and as having the best arm of any minor leaguer Tiger outfielder. He was 3 for 12 with 3 runs for Anzoategui that winter.
After splitting most of 2012 between Lakeland (.289/.324/.447 in 67 G) and the AA Erie SeaWolves (.312/.345/.465 in 55 G), he was called up to the majors in late August. For the season in the minors, he had 8 triples, 78 runs, 23 steals in 31 tries, 15 assists and 18 walks to 95 strikeouts. He made his big league debut against the Chicago White Sox on August 31st, entering the game as a rightfielder in the 8th inning and never reaching the plate. The next day, he earned a start in right and hit 8th against the Sox and went 1-for-3 with an RBI. He walked against Francisco Liriano his first time up. Later on, he singled off Nate Jones to score Delmon Young. He saw regular action as Detroit's right fielder in September and hit .319/.379/.319 in 23 games. He was then 6 for 18 with a double and 4 RBI in the first two rounds of the 2012 postseason. He started Game 1 of the 2012 World Series; only two players had started a World Series Game 1 with fewer regular-season games: Joe Sewell (22 games, 1920) and Livan Hernandez (18, 1997), nearly giving Garcia the record for a position player. He was 0 for 5 with a walk in the Series, as Detroit was swept by the Giants.
Garcia was injured at the start of the 2013 season and only played his first game for the team on May 14th, after a short rehabilitation outing for Lakeland. However, he was not particularly sharp in Detroit, hitting only .241 in 30 games, with 2 homers and 10 RBI. He was sent down to the minors in early July, getting his first taste of AAA ball with the Toledo Mud Hens where he found his hitting stroke. He was hitting a scorching .382/.414/.549 in 32 games when the Tigers traded Garcia to the Chicago White Sox on July 30th, in a three-team deal that netted them SS Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox. He hit .304/.327/.447 in 42 games with the White Sox, with 4 doubles, 5 homers and 21 RBI, claiming the starting right field job for himself. He was the Opening Day starter for the Sox at the position in 2014 and on April 8th had a 4 for 5 game with his first two homers of the season in a game against the Colorado Rockies. The next day, however, he attempted to make a diving catch on a sinking liner hit by the Rockies' D.J. LeMahieu, but plowed his left shoulder into the ground, tearing his labrum. He had to undergo surgery, and it seemed his season was over, but he did come back in mid-August and eventually played 46 games, hitting .244 with 7 homers and 29 RBI.
He was finally healthy at the start of the 2015 season and started the year hitting very well. By going 7 for 12 with 6 RBIs in a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics on May 15-17, he raised his batting average to .346, second in the American League and was even able to lift his OPS above that of teammate Jose Abreu. His 45 hits at the point were already more than he had had in 2014. Along with the comparisons to countryman Miguel Cabrera which he had earned since reaching the big leagues with the Tigers in 2012, he was also being compared with Bo Jackson because of his tremendous speed and athleticism on a body the size of a typical NFL running back.
On April 14, 2017, he was part of a historic starting line-up for the White Sox against the Minnesota Twins, as all three outfielders were named "Garcia". Alongside Avisail in right field were Leury Garcia playing center and Willy Garcia making his major league debut in left. He had the best average in the American League in April, hitting .368.
- 2012 Tigers Media Guide
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Avisail Garcia finally finding consistency in White Sox lineup", USA Today, May 18, 2015.