Jul 06, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Baseballs sit in a bin during batting practice prior to the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves defeated the Phillies 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Bright Futures: # 5 - Oswaldo Arcia


Interested to see who could be patrolling your favorite team’s field in the next few years? You can read up on “Bright Futures” prospects 6-10 by clicking on the links below. 

We are halfway through the series “Bright Futures” and the competition is getting tighter as we begin winding our way down through the Top 5. Coming in at No. 5, is a six-foot, 210 pounder from Anaco, Venezuela. Imagine, as John Sickels suggests in his article where he grades the top – in his opinion – Twins prospects, a “Venezuelan Jason Kubel“. This “Venezuelan Kubel” is none other than Oswaldo Arcia.

Arcia is a smooth-swinging outfielder who most recently played his professional ball in Double-A New Britain in the Twins minor league system. Originally signed as a free agent at age 16 by the Twins, he made his organizational debut in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) in 2008. It was while playing for the DSL Twins which put Arcia on the map and allowed scouts to project an early high-ceiling for the powerful, left-handed hitting Venezuelan outfielder. He posted an impressive slash line of .298/.343/.432 in his first season within the organization which caught the eye of Twins scouts, prompting his arrival the following year in the Gulf Coast League (GCL).

In the GCL, Arcia’s batting average slipped a bit, down to .275, but his on-base percentage (.337) and slugging percentage (.455) remained true to his DSL form. However, the following season playing for the Elizabethton Twins was his coming out party. In 2010, Arcia tore up the Appalachian League with an incredible slash line of .375/.424/.672 to go along with 14 home runs, 7 triples and 51 RBI’s in 64 games played. His season was so monstrous, those numbers put him only three home runs shy of earning the Triple Crown in the league. Appalachian League officials recognized Arcia’s amazing season by naming him the league Player of the Year, Player of the Postseason, as well as honoring him with a spot on the Appy-League All-Star Team.

Because of his successes in 2010, MLB.com garnered Arcia as the Minnesota Twins 4th best prospect in the organization heading into the 2011 season. The scouting report MLB.com tabbed on Arcia affirmed his strengths and exposed a weakness of chasing pitches:

The Appalachian League MVP, Arcia led the rookie-level circuit in a host of offensive categories in 2010. He’s got power to all fields, though he’ll have to swing and miss less if he wants to keep putting up those kinds of numbers as he moves up. He should hit enough to handle the outfield corner he’ll man in the future.

Having power to all fields is a trait not many baseball players possess, and when a credited baseball site, such as MLB.com, slaps that ability in their description of your skills, then you must be doing something right. And Oswaldo Arcia is doing something right, well, he is actually doing just about everything right as a young professional. In 2011, he started off hot in Low-A Beloit but was hampered by an elbow injury which required surgery and forced him to miss time. However, his play still warranted a promotion to High-A Ft. Myers where he competed strongly but was not able to duplicate previous successes at lower levels. Even though his numbers were a little low in his first action in High-A, Arcia was still one of the youngest players in the league which proved he was on the fast track through the system.

Then 2012 rolled around and Arcia’s bat exploded. Playing in 51 games in Ft. Myers, Arcia compiled a very good slash of .309/.376/.517 which prompted a sooner than expected bump to Double-A New Britain. When a player makes the jump to a higher league, expectations are usually subtle at first as the player acclimates himself to the better competition, but Arcia actually improved his numbers after the promotion from Ft. Myers. A slash of .328/.398./.557 back up this claim as his bat became the talk of the Twins system. What was really impressive though, was his slugging percentage of .557, which would have tied him for 6th in all of baseball last year with Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays. Only sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout and Adrian Beltre had higher slugging percentages than Arcia in 2012.

Projection: Oswaldo Arcia can absolutely rake with a bat in his hands. He has put on some solid weight and is able to throw is frame around the bases as well to stretch singles to doubles when need be; in fact, he was once fast enough for center field but because of his build he has been regulated and projected out well to be a right fielder. His arm is strong and accurate despite the elbow surgery he had in 2011 so do not think the surgery restricted his progress defensively. Arcia does have a tendency to chase ball four, especially if pitches are down in the zone, so this season will be geared to stymie that habit. Regardless of K/BB rates, the main attraction here is his bat and power to all fields. Arcia has the opportunity to be a rare player that does not suffer contact loss with added power, a la Ryan Braun – not a fair comparison in overall ability, but both are double/gap hitters with extra oomph. Arcia is on the 40-man roster and will be able to showcase his abilities at Spring Training this season. Given the fact of how he dominated Double-A last year, with an outstanding spring against Major League talent, there is a chance he could start the year in Triple-A Rochester, but with all likelihood heading to New Britain to season the young masher. He will only be 21 at the start of this 2013 campaign and there is no rush to need his services in Minnesota. With that said, I believe we will see the Venezuelan right fielder in Minnesota in 2014, whether it is at the start of the season or a mid-season call-up is yet to be known, but rest assured we should all know the answer at the end of this campaign.

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