Prior to the 2012 season the Minnesota Twins had one of the weaker minor league farm systems. It was almost completely devoid of top tier starting pitching and had only two players ranked inside Baseball America’s 2012 Top 100 prospects list. Neither of those two players were Oswaldo Arcia. In fact, prior to 2102 Arcia was listed as the the Twins fifth best prospect but only the fourth best outfielder behind #99 overall prospect Joe Benson, Eddie Rosario, and Aaron Hicks. Oh what a difference a few months makes!
Benson who was also tabbed the Twins “Best Athlete” by Baseball America struggled mightily in his promotion to Triple-A Rochester and has been sent down to Double-A New Britain to work out his issues. On the season Benson is hitting .173/.264/.299 with 3 HR and 10 RBI.
Eddie Rosario has converted to 2nd base and is finding success at Class-A Beloit of the Midwest League. Through 61 games Rosario has a .295/.357/.477 with 7 HR and 39 RBI. He still has work to do defensively but that will come with time as he is only 20 years old and is learning the finer points of a difficult and new position.
Aaron Hicks is being Aaron Hicks. After ranking with in the Top 100 of Baseball America’s prospect list for three straight season (2009 #39, 2010 #19, 2011 #45) and never performing up to his perceived potential BA left him off their list in 2012. Hicks has not made them regret it. He is hitting a pedestrian .244/.342/.389 with 6 HR, 28 RBI , and 15 SB for Double-A New Britain, certainly not bad, but not up to the expectations of a former 14th overall selection.
Enter Oswaldo Arcia.
the 6’0 210 lb, Arcia was signed in 2007 out of Venezuela. He started his professional career in 2008 with the Twins Dominican Summer League affiliate. As a 17 year old, he hit .293/.343/.432 with 4 HR and 36 RBI and showed good plate discipline with a 27:16 K/BB ratio over 229 AB. He followed up his solid 2008 campaign with a move to the Gulf Coast Rookie League where he posted a respectable .275/.337/.455 with 5 HR, 24 RBI, and 18:15 K/BB ratio over 167 AB. Up until this point he looked like a solid but unspectacular outfielder with no single outstanding skill.
Then 2010 happened.
Arcia moved over to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League and tore the cover off the ball. Not only did he lead his team in almost all meaningful offensive categories (hits, doubles, triples, home-runs, RBI, runs, batting average, slugging %, and OPS) he did so as the youngest player on his team and one of the youngest in the league. It was an outstanding overall season and his slash line of .375/.424/.672 with 14 HR and 51 RBI paints a pretty clear picture of his success. However, one disturbing trend emerged over the course of Arcia’s breakout season. His plate discipline completely disappeared. He had a K/BB ratio of 67:18 or the equivalent of striking out in 24% of his at-bats. His season was also supported by a .463 BABIP which slightly dampens his success as that level of BABIP is simply unsustainable. It is worth mentioning that Arcia profiles to be a player who will consistently maintain an above average BABIP with his current plate approach but 2010 was off the charts. Nevertheless, Arcia had arrived as a prospect and, though still flawed, was showing more promise than ever.
2011 brought more of the same for the developing Arcia. Now 20 years old and in his fourth professional season Arcia spent the majority of his time between Class-A Beloit and Class-A Advanced Fort Myers. Across both levels he was able to maintain a .291/.335/.531 slash line and carry over his power from 2010 with 13 HR and 51 RBI. Unfortunately power was not the only thing Arcia carried over in from 2010 to 2011. He continued to show poor plate discipline with a 70:18 K/BB ratio and because he didn’t have a BABIP in the stratosphere his OBP sunk to .089 from .424 to .335. Arcia was beginning to show both the upside and downside of his abilities as a professional and while the power and batting average remained above average the plate discipline was well below where it would need to be for him to be considered an every day regular at the MLB level. Though to be fair to Arcia he did miss a month of the season after elbow surgery and that surely impacted his overall performance.
Flash forward to 2012 and Arcia, not fully healthy, has firmly entrenched himself as the best outfield prospect the Twins have (Buxton doesn’t count yet). He has been on an absolute tear to start the season. Currently he is hitting .323/.385/.538 with 7 HR and 28 RBI through 195 AB. He has also shown a more discerning eye at the plate striking out only 45 times while coaxing 20 free passes. He is still at Class-A Adv. Fort Meyers but with each game it is becoming increasingly obvious that he is in need of a more challenging environment. He recently received the FSL Player of The Week award for the week of May 28th. A week in which he hit .571 with 3 HR and 7 RBI.
The Twins are notorious for their conservative approach when handling prospects and I think in Arcia’s case it has served him well up to this point. I would hate for them to deviate from this plan and jeopardize his development but at some point he is going to need to face some adversity and as of right now he just isn’t. It is always important to manage prospects expectations, reward them for their success and make sure that they see a clear path towards their goals. To that end, I think within the next few weeks Arcia should be rewarded with a promotion to Double-A New Britain. He is still only 21 years old and has time on his side as he is age appropriate for his level but he is nearing the 500 AB threshold for the Florida State League and it’s time the Twins move him up.
With his emerging power and contact abilities he should be able to hit for a solid average with some pop at the big league level. At this time I think a fair player comparison would be somewhere in the realm of a Geoff Jenkins, Cody Ross, or former Twin Michael Cuddyer. Arcia probably has more athleticism than the aforementioned trio, but perhaps a little less power in the spacious Target Field.
In the end Twins fan’s should be excited by Arcia’s development and should look forward to having another Michael Cuddyer-type roaming right-field and hitting in the middle of the batting order as they try and work themselves out of the Major League cellar. At this point anything that can distract fans from the product being run out nightly at Target Field should be considered a welcomed distraction.
For More on the Minnesota Twins check out Puckett’s Pond.