Project Prospect #2: Justin Garcia, Houston Astros

Welcome everyone the second interview from the Project Farm System baseball project on 365SportsNetwork. Today we will be interviewing Houston Astros 2015 17th round selection, Justin Garcia. Before joining the Houston Astros in 2015, Garcia played College Baseball with State College of Florida before transferring and finishing up at Nova Southeastern University. Garcia’s College Baseball career was short lived due to him declaring for the 2015 MLB Draft.

Garcia was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 17th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, he is currently playing for the Greeneville Astros.

Justin David Kish: Thank you Justin taking time to do the interview with me for our Project Farm System section on our site, how are things going for you today?

Justin Garcia: Everything is going great man thanks for asking.

Justin David Kish: How was baseball first brought to your attention as a kid growing up?

Justin Garcia: My parents are both really big baseball fans so it’s something they always wanted me to do when I was young so I started when I was about 4 years old.

Justin David Kish: You grew up in Hialeah, Florida in the Miami Lakes area. Were you a Marlins fan growing up? And who was your baseball hero growing up?

Justin Garcia: Of course I was a Marlins growing up haha. And my hero growing up was Chipper Jones I even wore #10 as a kid because of him. A great ball player who played the right way and was easy to love.

Justin David Kish: Tell us about your times playing Little League Baseball?

Justin Garcia: Little League Baseball was a year round thing for me since I was 8. I traveled a lot and even went to Cooperstown twice. My dad coached me my entire life so that was a good bonding experience for us. So whenever I struggle my dad knows me so well so I can always go to him for when I’m not hitting too well.

Justin David Kish: You played High School at Hialeah Senior High School, what was your experience like playing there?

Justin Garcia: That was probably one of the best times of my life. I am Hialeah in and out and that school molded me into the man I am today. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Justin David Kish: During time at Hialeah Senior you were coached by Shane Fulton. Under Coach Fulton what did you learn from him?

Justin Garcia: Not only did Coach Fulton make me a better baseball player, he made me a better man. He was very big on discipline and doing the right things. I think when I got to Coach Fulton I was very young and immature, so having him as a coach in high school was a big part of me growing up. We are still close ’til this day and I still think of the things he use to tell me.

Justin David Kish: You are a natural infielder playing all around the diamond, did you experience playing in the outfield or pitching in high school?

Justin Garcia: Actually when I was younger and surprisingly quicker I use to be an everyday outfielder my first two years of high school.

Justin David Kish: After your high school career was done and set what was some advice that Coach Fulton gave to you before departing to college?

Justin Garcia: Just to be a good man and to make good decisions. The thing that stuck to me the most was him constantly saying “There’s only two things you can control. Attitude and Hustle, the rest is out of your hands.”

Justin David Kish: You had a very interesting college career. You first started off at State College of Florida for a year before landing at Nova Southeastern University for the remainder of your college career. Talk us through that process and what lead you transfer schools?

Justin Garcia: Well Junior Colleges (JUCO) are 2 year schools so after my sophomore season I had no choice but to go to a 4-year school after that.

Justin David Kish: Your College Baseball career was cut short due to your decision to declare for the 2015 MLB Draft. Tell us about your time playing baseball at both colleges?

Justin Garcia: Well both of those places are very special to me. I still keep up with both programs, both coaching staffs and teammates I had there. SCF welcomed me with open arms and that was one of my first times officially living away from home so it was a growing experience. Coach Hill is a tremendous man and I felt like he was a father to me, constantly looking out for us outside of baseball and making sure we were great men before we were great ball players. That program has tremendous history in baseball and we had tons of talent and I think that’s when I first started to hit for power just learning from other guys and the staff we had there. After my sophomore season I wasn’t sure where I was headed for my junior season, but NSU looked like a good decision because it would be the first time I’d be home in 2 years and I know that would mean a lot to my mom and my family. It actually turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. Playing in front of my mom who didn’t miss a single home game and only missed 3 road games was great and playing for Coach Brown was a step I needed to progress in my baseball career. Coach Greg Brown was a hard nose catcher in his playing days with a lengthy pro ball career. His knowledge of the game is out of this world and he pushed me to heights in this game I thought I’d never reach. I had a great time there at NSU and I will always cherish those moments.

Justin David Kish: In the previous question I mentioned that you declared for the 2015 MLB Draft where you were drafted by the Houston Astros in the 17th round of last year’s draft. Tell us about your draft process, the workouts, personal workouts and what teams were interested in you during the process?

Justin Garcia: The draft process was actually very crazy and I felt like it all happened so fast. I tried not to focus on the draft in college and just tried helping my team win as much as I could. As the season was coming to end I was getting lots of invites to pre-draft workouts. All of the workouts were when my season ended but I only had 15 days from that ’til the draft. Since I went to a Division 2 school it was very hard for scouts to sell me to their Scouting Directors so I felt like I HAD to go to these workouts so I ended up going to 14 workouts and that turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes I made. I was pretty tired from my college season and then doing those 14 workouts was pretty excessive but at the time I felt like that’s what I needed to do. After being drafted by the Astros I think that’s definitely a moment I will remember forever and will one day be able to tell to my kids.

Justin David Kish: When you were drafted by the Astros did have any thoughts on what position you mainly want to play at since you have experience playing around the diamond?

Justin Garcia: Well I was a left fielder in college and actually didn’t play an inning at first my junior year. When the Astros drafted me they immediately told me they wanted me to work on first base but that I would still see some time in the outfield. I personally don’t mind where I play on defense. Wherever the team thinks will help the team win is fine with me.

Justin David Kish: How were you first notified of your 1st assignment in the minor leagues? What was that phone call like?

Justin Garcia: I actually had no idea how they assign guys to their teams and I thought I was going to the GCL the whole time haha. The scout who drafted me John Martin then gave me a call and told me I would be going to Greeneville and told me all about it and how the league would be.

Justin David Kish: Lets fast forward a year later and you see yourself with the Greenville Astros, what are your expectations for the 2016 season and going forward?

Justin Garcia: I think a big mistake I made in 2015 was making tons of expectations for myself and panicking when things didn’t go my way. I’m aware of the down year that I had and I have no one to blame but myself. I think I’m a better player than I have shown so far but the expectations I do have for myself in 2016 is to just go out there 1 day at a time and just give it all I got and play the game everyday like its my last. Just trying to have fun and remember how blessed I am to be able to do what I love everyday.

Justin David Kish:  Before we let you go I wanna ask you, if you could compare your skills to any current MLB player who would you compare your skills to and why?

Justin Garcia: This is always a tough one haha. It’s tough because I have so much respect for those guys who play at such a high level and who have done it, but if I had to pick someone I would say Adrian Gonzalez. Someone who hits left handed, who has power and who can hit the ball to left field well.

Justin David Kish: Lastly, What advice can you give to High School Baseball players who want to play at the college and professional level?

Justin Garcia: The best advice I can give to high school baseball players is to leave it all on the field and have no regrets out there. A great thing about this game of baseball is that it’s not as physically demanding as other sports. There’s short guys who are great ball players, tall, large, skinny. If you want it bad enough and put enough heart in it I promise the opportunity to achieve your dream is there. I was once a lazy baseball player and almost ended my career very early after high school, but I worked as hard as I possibly could and wanted it so bad. You work hard in this game you can go as far as you want.

Justin David Kish: Thank you so much for your time there is no doubt we will be following you during your career. 

Justin Garcia: Thanks Justin for taking your time to interview me I truly appreciate it man!


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