Meet the other Luis Garcia, the Phillies prospect to keep an eye on

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Meet the other Luis Garcia, the Phillies prospect to keep an eye on

Back in July 2017, the Phillies signed a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic named Luis Garcia.

They liked him so much that they gave him a $2.5 million bonus.

“Keep an eye on this guy,” a team official said at the time.

Garcia, who turned 18 on Oct. 1, has proven to be worth the attention. He won the Gulf Coast League batting title (.369) and finished third (.433) in on-base percentage this summer. He was named to the league's postseason All-Star team.

Now comes more recognition for the 5-foot-11, 170-pound switch-hitter.

In its latest issue, Baseball America names Garcia as the top prospect — No. 1 — in the Gulf Coast League. The publication describes Garcia as “a smooth, graceful defender with quick feet, great hands and a plus arm.” It goes on to say he “makes smart decisions and plays under control.” At the plate, Garcia shows “a mature hitting approach from both sides, staying within the strike zone and spraying line drives around the field with gap power.”

Though Garcia has always been a shortstop, the Phillies played him a little bit at second base this fall in the Florida Instructional League. Garcia could be ready for Single A Lakewood in April.

Obviously, Garcia has many miles to go in the development process, but there's a lot to like and it's always fun to watch a talented kid progress.

If Garcia makes it to Philadelphia — as many believe he will — he will become the second Luis Garcia to play for the Phillies. Reliever Luis Garcia, also a native of the Dominican Republic, has been with the club since 2013.

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Phillies beat J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration hearing

Phillies beat J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration hearing

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The verdict is in.

The Phillies have beaten catcher J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The All-Star catcher will make $10 million in 2020. Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last season, had sought $12.4 million in arbitration.

An arbitration panel heard arguments from both sides during a hearing Wednesday in Phoenix and on Thursday informed the parties that it had decided in the team’s favor.

Realmuto is back from Arizona and was seen hitting in the cage Thursday afternoon at Carpenter Complex but was unavailable for comment.

Despite losing his case, Realmuto will still make a record salary for an arbitration-eligible catcher. The previous record was held by Mike Napoli, who made $9.4 million with the Texas Rangers in 2012.

The Phillies had not been involved in an arbitration hearing since 2008 when they lost to Ryan Howard. He made $10 million that season.

Realmuto attended the hearing and is expected back in Phillies camp on Thursday.

Arbitration hearings can sometimes create hard feelings between a team and a player, but Realmuto has thus far been able to chalk up the entire process to the business of baseball. 

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said on Monday. “I’m going to either be making $10 million or $12 million, and I’ll be happy either way. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living for a lot of money so either way I’m happy.”

Surely, the Phillies hope Realmuto maintains that posture in the coming weeks as the two sides begin to explore a contract extension that will keep the player from becoming a free agent at season’s end.

Realmuto is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $23 million per season, matching Joe Mauer’s record salary for a catcher, over a five- or six-year deal. The Phillies would like to get a deal done during spring training.

“It would be nice to have some resolution prior to opening day just so it’s not a distraction to mostly the player but even to us during the season,” general manager Matt Klentak said earlier this spring. “I still feel very strongly that I would like to do that. Everyone in our organization does.”

The Phillies acquired Realmuto in a trade with Miami in February 2019. He went on to have a big year in his first season in Philadelphia. In addition to making the All-Star team, he was the catcher on the inaugural All-MLB team, and he won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the National League. He led all big-league catchers in hits, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits while swatting a career-high 25 homers. He threw out 37 runners trying to steal, the most in the majors.

The Phillies have an arbitration hearing with reliever Hector Neris on Friday. Neris is seeking $5.2 million and the Phillies filed at $4.25 million. He made $1.8 million last season.

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Pennsylvania Little League bans use of 'Astros' team name

Pennsylvania Little League bans use of 'Astros' team name

Is a local Little League district responding to the Astros' cheating scandal with a harsher sentence than Major League Baseball?

In the wake of Houston's sign-stealing, administrator Bob Bertoni from the District 16/31 Little League - which features teams out of Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley area - said this week he's barred the use of "Astros" as a nickname.

Before you go and rant about what seems on the surface like an odd move, let him explain his decision.

Per the Citizens Voice:

“We are suspending the Astros from our district,” Bertoni said. “In our pledge it says to play fair and that has been our pledge forever. All our leagues represent one major league team or another. To me, we need to use this as an educational tool and teach the kids there are consequences for actions. The Astros cheated and broke the rules. Our kids idolize these teams and players, and this is a team we don’t want to idolize.”

Also of note, Bertoni isn't the first to bar the Astros from his league; last week, leagues in California started the movement by banning the nickname.

Frankly, while it doesn't seem like a necessary choice, it's probably a smart one. Kids love to tease each other, especially in sports. Sticking a group of kids on a team named after the Cheaters Of The Moment is just begging for one game gone awry to lead to weeks of name-calling and secretive teasing about a kid cheating during the game. 

Is it a big deal, in the grand scheme of things? Of course not. We're talking about Little League baseball. But Bertoni's choice to dodge the possibility entirely is probably smart.

Rob Manfred, the ball is back in your glove.

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