For many kids growing up, the ultimate goal is to one day play professional baseball. Major League baseball players are idolized, and kids try to imitate everything that the big leaguers do. Ryan Garcia is no different, except that he is actually making those dreams a reality. He took the next step in his baseball journey this summer when he was selected in the 32nd round by the Seattle Mariners in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Garcia graduated this past May from PLNU as one of the most successful players in the program’s history. His accolades include a third-team All-PacWest selection as a sophomore, then a first-team selection in both his junior and senior seasons. Additionally, Garcia was twice named first-team all-region in three different polls.
In 2016, he had been in contact with a number of MLB organizations, but it ultimately fell through for Garcia that year.
“During my junior year, I had been in contact with a lot of teams, but it didn’t work out for a few different reasons,” Garcia said. “I knew if I had another successful year, then there was a good chance I would be drafted.”
Returning for his senior season, he led the Sea Lions in home runs, RBIs and finished the year with an impressive .344 batting average, yet Garcia credited his teammates and coaches for helping him to have such a successful career.
“The coaching staff was a huge part of me reaching my goals, and then there was the drive to win and be successful that I shared with my teammates where we were always pushing each other,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s success at PLNU was enough for the Seattle Mariners to draft him in the 32nd round, the first draft pick to come out of the Point Loma program since 2012 graduate, Ricky Gingras, who was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 18th round.
“It was sweet, one of the best days of my life,” Garcia said. “I was with a bunch of family and friends to celebrate, knowing that I was probably going to get drafted. Honestly, words can’t really describe how I felt.”
Garcia spent the season as many draft picks do, playing for the Arizona League Mariners, the club’s rookie affiliate, which is where most rookies play because of the overlap in collegiate and professional schedules.
“[You] grind every day. Games are at 7 p.m., so you show up to the facilities by 12:30 p.m. and go through a full practice, then you get a little bit of time to relax before the game starts. The days are long, and you play every day, not just Friday and Saturday [like at the collegiate level],” Garcia said. “It takes a toll on you physically, so I just had to make sure I was ready every night.”
While playing for the AZL Mariners, Garcia was an everyday contributor, appearing in the most games of any player on the roster. He led the team in doubles (14) and RBIs (44), while finishing second in hits (45). Although Garcia got off to a running start offensively, defensively, he had to adjust to a new position; playing right field rather than first base as he did at PLNU.
“Baseball is a game of failure. You are going to have rough games or stretches, but I had to make sure I was mentally strong and put it behind me because you have a game the next day; you have to be able to move on.”
Garcia hopes to be playing at the High-A level next year, and says his ultimate goal is to have a big league at-bat. While he knows improvement is key to making this a reality, Ryan Garcia took a big step towards his dream this summer.