Hugo Garcia will become the 1,645th player to represent St Kilda when he runs out in Saturday's Round 5 clash with Greater Western Sydney at Manuka Oval.

Here are four things to know about our newest AFL debutant.

A Cannon becomes a Saint...we don't hear that often

Garcia became just the sixth AFL Saint recruited from the Calder Cannons when he was selected with pick No. 50 in the 2023 NAB AFL Draft, following in the footsteps of Jarryd Allen (2006), Daniel Markworth (2011), Nick O'Kearney (2015), Jack Bytel (2018) and Matt Allison (2020).

It's been rare for a Cannon to join the Saints, who have drafted a combined 28 players from local clubs Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers since the draft's inception.

Growing up in Melbourne's northern suburbs, Garcia played his junior footy for Greenvale and Taylors Lakes before joining Calder in the Coates Talent League.

He built a reputation as a high half-forward with goalkicking nous at Calder, bagging eight majors in the first five rounds last year.

His best stretch saw five consecutive games of 20-plus disposals, while also remaining consistent and accurate in front of goals.

Throughout his junior years, the 18 year-old midfielder was described as versatile, with both his tackling and work-rate highly regarded - a nod to his hard work and dedication in preparation for his draft year.

Tackling machine

Despite just two VFL games under his belt, Garcia has already shown he's not afraid to get his hands dirty.

The hard nut registered 22 tackles - including 14 in one game - while also tallying two goals, 36 disposals and eight clearances to prove he's ready to roll on the big stage as a tackling and speedy threat.

Hugo Garcia gets to work for the Zebras. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Learning from Lenny

Under the tutelage of St Kilda great and development coach Lenny Hayes, Garcia is quickly learning the tricks of the trade.

In his first pre-season at the Saints, Garcia has worked very closely with Hayes to deepen his midfield nous, and who better to learn off than the three-time All Australian himself.

“Hugo has been so keen to get better," Hayes said this week.

“He’s been really disciplined with learning the game-plan.

“He’s obviously got speed and endurance, but his inside craft and willingness to chase and tackle are impressive.”


A Mediterranean mix

With the name of a European soccer star, it's no surprise that Garcia indeed has Mediterranean blood.

A mix of Spanish and Italian background, Garcia proudly displays both countries' flags in his Instagram bio.

Saints fans will be hoping he can bring some classic European flair and passion in the red, white and black.