Nats’ call-up of García is latest sign he’s surpassed Kieboom

Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia

The Nationals recalled Luis García from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday, giving the young infielder another chance to make an impact at the major-league level. A roster spot opened up after Washington placed Starlin Castro on the Restricted List so that the third baseman could take care of a family situation.

“We talked last night and I just want him to go and handle those matters,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said of Castro on a Zoom call. “I can’t get into specifics. One thing for sure: Starlin is good. He just needs to take care of some stuff…I 100% support him. We all support him here at the Nationals so hopefully he can resume and get back to us as soon as possible.”

It’s unclear how long the Nationals will be without Castro, but his absence creates an opportunity for García. That opportunity would’ve gone to fellow infielder Carter Kieboom a few months ago, when he began spring training as the favorite to win the Nationals’ starting job at third base. But an unproductive spring on the heels of a poor 2020 campaign forced Washington to option Kieboom to Triple-A.

Kieboom has hit .233 with three home runs and a .750 OPS in 28 games for the Rochester Red Wings this season. Meanwhile, García has impressed with a team-high 31 hits (seven homers) to go with a .270 batting average and .814 OPS. Earlier this month, he was named the Triple-A East Player of the Week for hitting .407 with three homers over a six-game span.


When asked why García was the Nationals’ first choice to replace Castro, Martinez pointed to the 21-year-old’s success at the plate this season.

“He’s doing well,” Martinez said Wednesday. “He’s really swinging the bat well. He’s doing all of the things that we’ve asked him to do down there so he gets an opportunity to come up here and help us win some games.”

This isn’t the first time García has gotten the nod over Kieboom. Washington recalled García in May when outfielder Victor Robles landed on the IL with an ankle sprain. He appeared in only three games, going 1-for-5 with a triple before Robles returned. Martinez hinted at García playing a bit more this time, saying he wants the lefty infielder in the lineup at second base when the Nationals are facing right-handed starters.

Kieboom has shown signs of improvement at the plate in recent weeks, hitting .271 with 10 walks and nine strikeouts over his last 15 games. However, his early struggles were enough to put him firmly behind García on the organizational depth chart for now.

“We thought about Carter as well,” Martinez said after calling up García in May. “But like I said, I really thought Garcia could help us, not only just playing, but also off the bench as well. He also can play shortstop fairly well. So, to have him here, just in case we need someone or if we want to spell — even though we have Jordy [Mercer] — if we wanted to spell Trea [Turner], we could do that as well. So for me it’s about also putting eyes on him because he’s done well and he’s a very important part of our future, and see where he’s at. And it’s kind of nice to get him out here and get him working with [bench coach Tim Bogar].”