Red Sox sign Venezuelan catching prospect Johanfran Garcia

Saturday marked the opening of the 2021-2022 international signing window across Major League Baseball. The Red Sox have been as active as any team and have signed six players thus far, according to Baseball America signing agreement tracker.

Of those six players, catching prospect Johanfran Garcia may stand out above the rest.

Garcia, who turned 17 last month, will sign with Boston for approximately $650,000, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The native of Venezuela is the younger brother of Red Sox outfield prospect Jhostynxon Garcia, who originally signed with the club in July 2019.

Listed at 6-foot and 205 pounds, Garcia came into 2022 regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 34 overall prospect in this year’s class, ranking fifth among catchers in the publication’s top-50 list.

On the 20-80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline grades the right-handed hitting backstop’s hit tool at 50, his power tool at 55, his run tool at 45, and his arm tool at 50.

“Garcia is built like Yadier Molina,” his MLB Pipeline scouting report reads. “He’s husky, strong and extremely durable. And while he could eventually develop into an all-around defender like Yadier, Garcia is better known for his bat over his defense at this stage of his career.

“The teen simply has a great feel for hitting and performs well at the plate in games and showcases,” it continues. “He has displayed the ability to spray the ball all over the field with authority and has what has been described as ‘sneaky’ pull power to his pull side.

“He’s no slouch on defense. He has average hands and projects to have an average arm. He moves well behind the plate and continues to work on his blocking and receiving skills.” 

In addition to Garcia, the Red Sox have also inked shortstops Fraymi De Leon, Freili Encarnacion, Jancel Santana, Yosander Asencio (Dominican Republic), and Marvin Alcantara (Venezuela), outfielder Natanael Yuten (Dominican Republic), left-hander Inmer Lobo (Venezuela) and right-handers Willian Colmenares and Denison Sanchez (Venezuela).

Boston has $5,179,700 to work with in terms of their international amateur bonus pool. Any player they sign for $10,000 or less does not count against the cap as this year’s signing window runs through December 15.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox outfield prospect Jhostynxon Garcia coming off solid debut season in Dominican Republic; 19-year-old is projected to begin 2022 in Florida Complex League

The Red Sox had many standout prospects who played for one of their two Dominican Summer League affiliates last season. This piece in particular will focus on outfielder Jhostynxon Garcia, who suited up for the DSL Red Sox’ Blue squad.

Garcia began the year as the team’s Opening Day centerfielder against the DSL Royals White on July 12. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in that particular contest, but really picked it up from there.

Over 45 games, the right-handed hitter batted an impressive .281/.424/.481 to go along with seven doubles, four triples, four home runs, 27 RBIs, 36 runs scored, five stolen bases, 33 walks, and 32 strikeouts across 172 plate appearances in what was his debut season.

Among hitters in the Dominican Summer League who accrued at least 170 plate appearances in 2021, Garcia ranked 12th in triples, 11th in walk percentage (19.2%), 14th in on-base percentage, 18th in slugging percentage, 14th in OPS (.905), 13th in isolated power (.200), and 12th in wRC+ (153), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Garcia played all over the outfield last season. Despite having some experience at shortstop as an amateur, the 6-foot-3, 163 pounder logged 172 1/3 innings in which he recorded one outfield assist and zero errors in center field and logged 110 1/3 innings in which he recorded three outfield assists, zero errors, and one double play in right field.

Garcia, who just turned 19 last month, originally signed with the Red Sox out of San Fernando de Apure for $350,000 back in July 2019. At that time, Baseball America reported that Garcia — then 16 — was “a well-rounded player and one of the better pure hitters this year in Venezuela.”

At present, Garcia is regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 60 prospect in Boston’s farm system. In September, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote that the young outfielder “will show some of the loudest tools on the DSL Red Sox, but he is raw at present with strikeout potential.

“He is passive at the plate and his swing is pull-heavy, but when he makes contact, he hits the ball hard and has power potential,” added Cundall. “In the outfield, he has decent instincts, which he needs to make up for his lack of pure speed.”  

Considering that he is coming off a relatively successful first professional season, Garcia is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 campaign with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox in Fort Myers.

While he still has plenty of room to grow both physically and developmentally, it appears as though Garcia has the athleticism and upside to emerge as an intriguing prospect once he gets settled into the states.

(Picture of Jhostynxon Garcia via his Instagram)