Pirates Designate Willy Garcia For Assignment

The Pittsburgh Pirates have designated outfielder Willy Garcia for assignment in order to make room for Ivan Nova on the 40-man roster. The move comes four days after the team officially announced the Nova signing, leaving them with 41 players on the roster during that time. The delay could have been due to the holiday season, with not a lot of action going on around baseball right now.

It’s not a big surprise that Garcia was designated for assignment this offseason. He was once part of a talented group of international hitters in West Virginia, pairing up with Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson, Jose Osuna, and Elias Diaz. Garcia could have been considered the best prospect in the group at one point, due to his projectable skills, his plus-plus arm, and his raw power. He moved up in the system over the years, continuing to get the highest grades in the system for his arm strength and some of the highest grades for his raw power. But he had strikeout issues that held him back.

Garcia was striking out over 30% of the time in Bradenton and Altoona in 2013 and 2014. He started to cut down on the strikeouts in 2015 and 2016, dropping to the 26% range in Triple-A. However, this also saw a drop in his power, and he didn’t hit for average or get on base enough to make up for that drop. Garcia would be a three true outcomes guy if he drew walks. Unfortunately, he’s just a guy who mostly hits for power and strikes out a lot, and when the power fell off the table in pairing with only a modest drop in strikeouts, he stopped looking like a prospect.

The Pirates didn’t call him up to the majors in 2015, which wasn’t a surprise. However, they also didn’t call him up in 2016, even though they had a need for outfielders in September with all of their injuries. The fact that he didn’t even get consideration for a promotion at that point showed that his time in the organization could be short-lived.

The thing about Garcia is that he’s still fairly young, just turning 24 at the end of the 2016 season. He still has a lot of raw power and still has the best outfield arm in the system. So a team could claim him with the hopes of finally getting him to figure out his strikeout/power issues. However, at this point I think he’s a long-shot to be anything more than a fourth outfielder in the majors. If he sticks around, I believe the Pirates would have him for one more year before he could be a minor league free agent, since he’s already been tendered a contract for the 2017 season.

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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There goes the designated thrower.

Phil W

Makes sense to DFA Garcia. I hope there is some sense of urgency in the next couple of drafts to restock the system with outfielders. We have built good depth at middle infielder and pitcher, but doesn’t look like much other than possible 4th outfielders in the system, other than Meadows.

Bill Harvey

IF, and this is a big IF, Barrett Barnes’ season last year is his true potential, then he is head and shoulders above Garcia, and probably a future starter in the majors. He very well could be the best OF prospect in our system outside of Bell (still has rookie status) and Meadows.


I’m under the impression OFers are easier to find than any other position. You are correct though, it’s time to acquire some OF depth.

I would really like to see some power in the system (yes, every team would), but from my understanding the Pirates are concentrating on the line drive, high OBP guys.

joe s

Wonder why they didn’t try to convert him to pitching?


Garcia, along with Hanson, has regressed a lot over past 2 to 3 years. He, Hanson, Polanco, Osuna, and Herrera were all in Low A together and they all looked like future stars. I hope he gets a fresh start elsewhere and taps into his obvious physical talents. I would have DFAd Gift before Garcia.


Near as I can tell, we only have 3 OFers on the 40 man now, Cutch, Polanco and Marte. Is this a problem?

joe s

did you think that Garcia was number 4?


I’d imagine they add a veteran corner outfielder on a minors deal with an invite to spring training like they did with Joyce last offseason.

dr dng

“I’d imagine they add a veteran corner outfielder on a minors deal with an invite to spring training like they did with Joyce last offseason.”

Are their any good ones out there?

Zack Nagel

Osuna, Hanson and Frazier all have time in the OF but yeah not ideal 4th.


Harrison, Bell, etc. I bet Bell gets the fourth spot with Freese able to cover 1st. Unless Jung Ho ends up in jail before April.


I think Willy will get claimed. Still enuf upside here for someone to stash him on their 40 man. Power hitters and power arms always get extra chances.

Joe P

Who was they young outfielder that did so well in spring training last year? Ramirez or Garcia. Showed lots of promise and Hurdle praised him.

Zack Nagel

Ramirez. Led the team in hits I think. Called him “The Bone Collector” of something like that.

Michael Sanders

I know this girl with a nickname, The Bone Collector.


Hit collector

Bruce Humbert

Stop the madness!
First Huntington trades two “top” prospects now he waives a third!
Clearly a conspiracy to defraud the fans who should have a voice in this sort of thing since they paid for PNC Park.

Happy New Year!


Well done. Haha


Garcia has proven he was unable to adjust as the competition got stronger. That said, how many MI’s are on the 40?

Bruce Humbert

Yes – need a sarcasm emoji…
MLBTR mentioned Garcia was the 12th ranked Pirate Prpspect Baseball America last two years.

Robert J

He forgot to mention the ski lifts.

Bill W

Could you imagine if we traded Garcia and Heredia 4 years ago? Can you imagine if we trade McCutcheon and get the modern day equivalent of Gracia and Heredia? Do you think John Perrotto or Mark Madden hacked the DNC?

michael t

No…we want the next Andy LaRoche.


I was just reading an old write up on the Bay trade the other day. The writer commented that LaRoche would be blocking Neil Walker, but was a superior player, so it wasn’t a big deal.

michael t

Once we got Laroche he was so outstanding that Neil was able to fleece Toronto out of a third string catcher for Bautista.
Walker was not one of NH’s boys, but got his chance at second because of an injury.


Prospects will break your heart!


What about the hacking?

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