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Garcia selected in 15th round by San Francisco Giants

Posted: June 14, 2017 - 12:21pm
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For a majority of his life, Texas Tech’s Orlando Garcia always wanted to emulate New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

Garcia, who grew up in El Paso, made sure to carry himself with the same demeanor as “The Captain” who patrolled the space between third and second base with grace and flair.

He also did his best to look the part — asking for the No. 2 on his jersey and even, when the time arose, making Jeter’s vintage jump-throw deep in the hole — which carried through all the way to his junior year at Texas Tech.

On Wednesday, Garcia became one step closer to emulating his childhood hero when he was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 456th pick in the 15th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Draft.

“Any kid that plays shortstop wants to be or have that Derek Jeter-type of career,” said Garcia, who wore No. 21 — to follow his two older brothers who loved Deion Sanders — before it wasn’t available and he stuck with No. 2 at Texas Tech. “For me, just all of his skills and the way he respects the game is one of the reasons I looked up to him. … It be really cool if, at one point, I would get to meet him at one point of my career.”

The junior shortstop, who has not agreed to a contract or underwent a team physical, led the Red Raiders in home runs (13) and RBIs (62) last season. Garcia, who appeared in and started in 59 contests, helped Texas Tech earn its second straight NCAA Regional berth for the second time in program history. Texas Tech also earned a College World Series berth in 2016.

“It’s hard to explain and put it into words what that was like,” Garcia said when asked to reflect on his postseason runs with the Red Raiders. “I can say this though: it’s something every player dreams of, and I’ll never forget the great memories I had with those guys. I get chills just talking about it.”

Garcia is the 13th Red Raider to be drafted in the top 10 rounds of the MLB Draft. The El Paso native is the first shortstop to be drafted since Tim Proudfoot, a starter on Texas Tech’s first College World Series squad, was chosen in the 21st (2014) as a junior and then the 33rd (2015).

More so, he’s the third player in El Paso Americas High School history to be drafted by an MLB team. The list includes older brother Oscar Garcia (31st by San Diego Padres in 2010) and Anthony Prieto (5th round by Chicago Cubs in 2012).

“I was fortunate to be able to be at home with my family,” Orlando Garcia said. “And when I finally got the call, the one you’ve been waiting your whole life for, I was ecstatic. You’re part of a special group of player. I wanted to be a big leaguer at some point of my career, and I get a chance to start.”

Garcia showed plenty of power as he notched nine doubles, and three triples this season.

But, his most treasured statistic, was on defense where he maintained a .969 fielding percentage. He made seven errors all season, including three during the NCAA Lubbock Regional. As a middle infielder, Garcia made 29 double plays and recorded 70 putouts.

“As a shortstop, you have to be defensively sound,” Garcia said. “And that’s biggest part of my game that I take pride in. … That’s when I really started to love the game, when I started to make those Jeter plays at times. Then you start to have fun.”

After making 40 appearances, including 34 starts as a freshman, Garcia hit .259 with five doubles, a triple and a home run. He also drove in 18 runs. He started 17 times at shortstop, 16 times at third base and one time at second base.

For his efforts, Garcia was selected to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.

“I wasn’t looked at much in high school. Texas Tech was my one big offer, and I took it and ran with it.” Garcia said. “It was a small college town and the fans embraced the players. I tried to be the best shortstop I could there. My roots are in El Paso, but Lubbock has a special place in my heart. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to return and give back.”

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