Willy Garcia and Keon Broxton Struggling Early in Triple-A

The Pirates promoted a pair of talented young outfielders from Altoona to Indianapolis in Willy Garcia and Keon Broxton. So far, both hitters are still struggling with the transition to Triple-A. Following the contest on Sunday night, Broxton was hitting .187 with a .588 OPS and Garcia was hitting .177 with a .429 OPS.

While Garcia picked up three hits on Thursday, two of the knocks were bloop singles. Outside of that contest, Garcia only has one other hit in the past nine games, as the league is certainly punching back after Garcia had hits in six of his first seven contests.

After picking up four hits of his own on June 8th, Broxton is seeing a similar struggle as Garcia. Since that contest, Broxton is 11-for-68 with 29 strikeouts.

“Anytime that you have guys coming from Double-A, most every guy is going to have an adjustment period,” Indianapolis hitting coach Butch Wynegar said. “[Broxton] has been going through it. [Garcia] has been going through it a little, but I am happy how he is going through it.”

In the past week, Broxton has been working the count deep in most of his at bats, with a patient approach to try to get a fastball that he can handle. While he looks overwhelmed at times with power fastballs, he looks equally overwhelmed and confused with good breaking balls. This tactic is something that Wynegar has been inspiring his young hitters to do.

“The biggest thing here, is that we preach to stay on the fastball,” Wynegar said. “In this league, you see a lot of off speed, especially in hitter’s counts that they are not used to seeing in Double-A. All the sudden, they see a 2-1 slider when they saw a 2-1 fastball in Double-A. Then the wheels start spinning a little bit and they get off the fastball, and then they are late on it.”

Garcia has also struggled at times in the past week to stay back on the off speed pitches and breaking balls. Whereas he has seen some struggles on the breaking ball, he is getting much better contact on the aforementioned fastballs. He also seems to fall behind in the counts lately, which make him more susceptible to the breaking balls.

With this, Garcia has struck out 17 times in 62 at bats since his promotion to Indianapolis for a 27% clip. Prior to the promotion, Garcia was just over 23% in Altoona, with 47 punch outs in 204 at bats.

Wynegar pointed out the he encourages the young hitters to stay stubborn in the approach and not to get off of it, because the main portion of the adjustment is mental, rather than physical.

Another adjustment that Broxton is working on it cutting the swing down, due to those high strikeout numbers.

Either way, both players have shown at times why they earned a promotion to the next level. However, with the league punching back at them, an adjustment will need to be made to keep the upward progression going. The talent is clearly there for the duo, it is just about when they make the move.

  • At best, these guys are trade chips. Neither has me thinking “MLB Starter”, so I am not getting excited about them one way or another.

    • Broxton is too old, and Garcia has always struck out too much, he has to rely on the that high BABIP to be productive offensely.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 6, 2015 12:20 pm

    A little off the subject, but the Pirates should be highly motivated going into this home series with SD. Not only because of the obvious pennant race, but because SD has owned the Pirates at PNC Park over the years. A sweep of the Padres would be very sweet! 🙂

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 6, 2015 10:38 am

    Garcia and Broxton both had initial struggles at the AA level, so this may just be the typical adjustment period when a player gets promoted. With each level, the quality and experience of the pitching increases dramatically.

    • Garcia is also undoubtedly struggling with the whole wait-five-years-to-teach-him-a-shred-of-plate-discipline approach to developing hitters, as well.

      • Is plate discipline teachable?

        • Sure it is.

          • I remember listening to either Kiley McDaniel or someones on BP’s podcast talking about how they had to do a study when working with some team to look at changes in plate discipline numbers (I forget what they used) over a prospects development, results where a 10-15% improvement was the max.

            Another vague anecdote, Joey Votto has said in the minors the Reds would have hitters take the first pitch, in effort to have them see more pitches, become better hitters. Votto said he hated at a first but it helped, though the Reds aren’t exactly cranking out hitters.

            I think you can certainly teach it too a degree I just have no clue how much.

  • So if Marte has to miss time….they aren’t options at this time.