2017 Killebrew Award Winner: Kevin Garcia (Ft. Myers)
Image courtesy of Ft. Myers MiracleWe’ll start this series today with the 2017 Killebrew Award winner for the Ft. Myers Miracle, catcher Kevin Garcia.
Kevin Garcia grew up in southern California. He went to high school in Calexico, California, a small town on the US border with Mexico. Following high school, he went to Loyola Marymount. In 2014, he was drafted in the 30th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. After two seasons, he was let go and the Twins quickly swooped in and signed the backstop. He split the 2016 season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers.
In 2017, he began with Ft. Myers and played a bit more. In 58 games, he hit .254/.318/.264 (.582). Through much of the season, he had a batting average at or near .300.He had a brief stint midseason with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
People talk about his ability behind the plate and how well he can call a game. Whether he is playing or not, he has tremendous leadership skills. Who knows, he could be a terrific coach when his playing days are complete. He is bilingual which certainly is helpful as a teammate or as a coach.
photo by Linwood Ferguson
But it was off the field where Kevin Garcia made a huge impact. He was a stalwart, willing to help out whenever he could.
Dominique Miranda-Dubay is the Miracle’s social media coordinator and also ran all of the Miracle’s public appearances. Of Garcia, she said, “Throughout the season we had 9 player appearances, Kevin Garcia went to 8. Over the course of the season he accumulated 20 hours in community service. No matter what type of appearance we did, Kevin always showed up with energy, excited to impact the community, connect with fans or inspire young athletes to follow their dreams.”
She continued, sharing more of the specific events at which Garcia worked and led.
“Starting with the Disability, Dream, Do camp, it was obvious he truly enjoyed being a role model in more ways than just on the field. This season Kevin was involved in the D3 camp, our Miracle baseball camp, talking to classrooms of children in at-risk schools, participating in a Little League practice with children with disabilities, prepping and serving meals at the Community Cooperative Soup Kitchen, speaking with young athletes at a summer sports camp, and greeting kids at a school to talk about our last home game in addition to appearing on the school news. While there were other players who also dedicated their time, Kevin was certainly a unanimous decision with his humble attitude and using his role as an athlete to give back to others. After a night on the road with an 8 am appearance the next morning Kevin would show up on time, with a big smile ready to go. With anything we asked of him on appearances, he would go the extra mile to introduce himself to people, share his story, and immerse himself in the moment. Kevin was also known for regularly staying on the field after games, win or lose to meet fans, take pictures and sign autographs which did not go unnoticed. He was a very dependable player to have this season outside of his duties on the field and very deserving of the award.”
Giving back is important and almost second-nature to Kevin Garcia. He told Twins Daily, “Giving back to the community is something that is always going to be meaningful. Like I said before, we sometimes don't realize how blessed we are and how much of an impact we can make in the community.”
As you’ve seen, Garcia remained quite busy even when he wasn’t at the baseball field. “We went from making some appearances in elementary schools to giving food to the homeless, and it's something incredible. Sometimes we don't realize how blessed we are and how this game can help you and help others.”
Garcia just turned 25 years old last week, but he understands the history of the game and understands the role that Harmon Killebrew played on and off the field in Twins Territory.
“Harmon Killabrew had an amazing career and his numbers were ridiculous, but he was also known for the type of person he was. He was a class act guy and always treated people with respect. He never "big leagued" anyone. To win an award named after a guy like that is an honor.”
Andrew Seymour was the Miracle General Manager. He noticed the effect that Garcia had on fans. “While there were many strong candidates for this award… Kevin Garcia was phenomenal. He did early morning appearances at schools, community centers, camps & daycares… his tireless community work was infectious. Always thoroughly engaging with all of our fans at games, Kevin was a fan favorite at Hammond Stadium. Fans were drawn to his enthusiastic energy on and off the field.”
Most important, Garcia hopes that through his efforts in the community and as a role model that he can inspire the next generation to help people in their lifetimes.
“It goes from a simple high five to a fan or an appearance at a school that will inspire kids and say I want to be like the players and give back to the community. If we keep that train moving we will keep on growing as human beings and helping others grow, which at the end of the day is what team is all about. Making each other better. The community and players. That's what we are, a huge team.”
Special thank you to the Ft. Myers Miracle for sharing all of these pictures of Kevin Garcia in the community.
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