(Redirected from Cornelio Garcia)
Cornelio Garcva Chaidez
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 11", Weight 154 lb.
Cornelio García is a first baseman-DH in the Lu Blue mold - high average, lots of walks, some speed but little power for a player at that position. García was the first player to be drafted from Mexico's Rookie Academy. He hit .225/~.333/.324 as a Yucatan Lions rookie in 1984, then was signed by the Chicago White Sox. He finished that year with the GCL White Sox, batting .266/~.329/.349.
Assigned to the Niagara Falls Sox in '85, Cornelio hit .273/~.371/.390 and stole 18 bases. The next year, he moved up to the Appleton Foxes (.261/~.376/.403, 13 SB) and the Peninsula White Sox (.290/~.383/.400, 3 SB). In 1987, García was at .231/~.348/.308 in just 15 games for the Daytona Beach Admirals and spent the bulk of the year with Peninsula, putting up a .284/~.364/.465 line at age 22. His 7 triples were two shy of the league leader, Tim Richardson.
In 1988, the Ensanda native had a .282/~.388/.413 line with the Tampa White Sox and .284/~.374/.358 turn for the Birmingham Barons. Overall that year, he had nine triples and stole 45 bases in 57 attempts. His five home runs were not Chicago wanted from a future first baseman, though. The next year only had García produce one home run in 461 AB for Birmingham. He tripled nine more times and stole 35 bases while hitting .271/~.358/.343.
1990 marked García's last year in the Chicago chain, though he hit .343/~.450/.433 for Birmingham; the Pale Hose had a much hotter prospect in Birmingham in the form of Frank Thomas. Returning to the Mexican League, García hit .290/~.411/.366 in 40 games for Yucatan.
In 1991, García batted .361/~.487/.523 for Yucatan and stole 52 bases in 63 tries. Despite playing in just 92 games, he was third in LMB in steals and second to Rich Renteria in OBP. The lightweight first baseman hit .338/~.447/.485 for the 1992 Lions, scoring 93 runs and hitting a career-high 15 homers (he had more than seven just two other times, 10 in '91 and 12 over a decade down the road) with 84 walks and 30 steals (caught 18 times, though). For Yucatan in 1993, Cornelio had a .362/~.477/.495 year. He was 4th in LMB with 98 runs, third in average, presumably among the top 3 in OBP and led the league with 45 stolen bases.
In the winter of 1993-1994, García had a fine winter for the Hermosillo Naranjeros (he played 19 winters for them), leading the Mexican Pacific League with 79 hits and 47 runs. He stole 17 bases in LMP play that winter for the champion Orange Growers. He was named league MVP. In his last summer for Yucatan, the 29-year-old produced at a .330/.437/.421 clip and took 31 bases in 40 steal tries.
Moving to the Monterrey Sultans in 1995, García hit .348/~.426/.433, but was caught 17 times in 51 steal tries. He led the Mexican League with 11 triples and was fifth in average while being moved to the outfield for a championship club. Monterrey won another title in '96 as García moved to 4th in average with a .345/~.474/.433 year. His steal rate continued to decline (21 times caught in 51 tries), though he drew a career-high 92 walks, third in the league and six behind leaders Hector Villanueva and Boi Rodrigues.
In 1997, Monterrey had the best regular-season record in the northern zone but fell in the first round of the playoffs. García churned out a .382/~.467/.478 year. He stole 22 in 39 tries only, but had 8 triples 86 runs and a league-leading 171 hits. He also won his only batting championship that season.
1998 led to another change of scenery as Cornelio moved to the Torreon Cotton Dealers and hit .372/~.475/.465 with 18 SB in 23 tries. He only played in 68 games; had he qualified for the batting championship, he would have finished fourth. In '99, García batted .349/~.474/.428, swiping 25 in 36 tries and drawing 89 walks. He finished third in the batting race behind former major-leaguers Julio Franco and Matias Carrillo and was also among the top base-stealers. He was likely around third in both walks and OBP. That winter, García hit .327 in the LMP, third-best, and led the league with 18 doubles.
In 2000, the 35-year-old veteran was still producing at a fine rate - .371/~.449/.467. He was fourth in the LMB in average and failed to steal 10 bases in a season for the first time since his rookie year 16 seasons earlier.
Through 2000, García's career line in LMB was .351/~.459/.460. He was sixth in LMB history in stolen bases and 4th in average among players with 3,000 or more at-bats (behind Alfred Pinkston, Alonso Perry and Jimmie Collins - making him the top contact hitter among Mexican natives (without adjusting for era).
García moved to the Mexico City Red Devils in 2001 and hit just .307 with two steals. He bounced back a year later, finishing third in the batting race (.382) and leading the league with 11 triples at the ripe old age of 37. He also moved past Agustin Bejerano to 5th all-time in the Liga in steals amd played on yet another championship club. He remained in the top 10 in average in 2003 (.342) while moving to the Oaxaca Warriors during the season and then finishing up with the Laguna Cowboys.
García played just 50 games in 2004, hitting .329/.388/.436 for Laguna and he even pitched 3 games, posting a 6.10 ERA and recording no decisions. At age 40 in his 22nd pro season in 2005, the old-timer was still putting up a .348/.428/.543 season, leading the Cowboys in OBP and slugging. 13 years after his last double-digit home run season, he knocked 12 out of the park.
Entering 2006, García ranked 8th all-time in the Mexican Pacific League in steals (151), sixth in runs (566) and 12th in hits (1,002), having retired from winter ball. Continuing to play in the LMB, he maintains a .350 career average, the highest by a Mexican native in history and the highest by anyone with over 4,600 AB.
Garcia was a coach for Monterrey in 2012. He was elected to the Salón de la Fama on the first ballot, in 2013, with 141 votes, second to Jesús Ríos's 259. Also elected were veterans Juan Suby and Alfredo Mariscal and umpire Jesús Monter. He was voted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 in a class with Jaime Orozco and Darryl Brinkley; he had the best average in the 1990s Caribbean Series among players with 60+ at-bats. He led the 1990 Caribbean Series with a .520 mark.
Sources: Viva Beisbol! newsletter by Bruce Baskin, 1986-1987 Baseball America Statistics Reports, 1988-2006 Baseball Almanacs, 1989, 1991, 1995, 2005 and 2006 Baseball Guides, Minorleaguebaseball.com and The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, Meridiano