I love playing poker. I love it because it's a partial information game. There's luck, sure. But it's not a game entirely left up to chance. There are odds to play and educated guesses to make. So it is with fantasy baseball. Information is abundant, but luck is a variable, and often a distinguishing one. Our guesses are educated, perhaps overwhelmingly so, but they are still just guesses. And so it is with this understanding that I come to my anticipation that today's subject will receive ample playing time during the 2013 season..
UPDATE: The Twins are expected to call up Arcia on Monday, although it could be just a brief stay in Minnesota as he is replacing Wilkin Ramirez, who is on paternity leave. Then again, he could hit enough for the Twins to keep him on the roster.
Oswaldo Arcia isn't an uber prospect. He's not the next Oscar Taveras, mainly because he's already older than Oscar Taveras. He wasn't the previous Taveras either. What he is, is one of my favorite prospects. Again, not necessarily because of his overwhelming talent, though he has plenty, but because I think he's overlooked relative to his peers. That said, I do think he's quite good. Here's what I had to say about Arcia from a skills standpoint in August 2012:
A classic power hitter, Arcia might not get his due, because he plays in the shadow of Miguel Sano despite mashing two levels higher. Arcia's raw power is plus to all fields, and he generates it with good bat speed and fluid hips. He uses his hands well, and scouts hang a future plus on his hit tools as well. Any time someone can combine a plus hit and a plus power tool, I'm interested. Arcia has matched his career high of 14 homers this year, splitting them evenly between Hi-A and Double-A, all while maintaining a batting average over .300. He's strong enough that he shows the ability to drive balls despite not barreling them. At 6'0/210 lbs, Arcia doesn't exactly scream "athlete," but he moves well enough to stick in an outfield corner. His build doesn't hold a ton of projection in it, in regards to adding muscle to his frame, but that doesn't mean he can't learn to add loft and leverage to his swing. Given his frame and relative lack of athleticism, Arcia isn't going to be burning up the basepaths any time soon. He could be an average runner at best, but will likely settle in at below average. Arcia has plus arm strength and gets carry on his throws, so he should be able to hack it in right field, but left field could be an option is he loses arm strength or speed down the line. While no one tool stands out for Arcia, the overall package presents itself as a low end first division regular or a high end second division player, and there's plenty of value in those in fantasy.
Not a ton has changed from that analysis, as you might expect. It's been less than a year, with the bulk of that time coming in the offseason. What has changed is the window in which we might expect Arcia to arrive. Here is my summation from August:
Minnesota isn't exactly hurting for outfielders, which is a good thing as they will have no reason to rush Arcia up the ranks. They've been aggressive as is, promoting him to Double-A by 21, and it would serve him well to see more time at the higher levels to work out the kinks in his game. That said, he has a higher fantasy ceiling than Denard Span or Ben Revere, so it would be a welcome sight for fantasy owners when he does crack the lineup. I think he'll likely be in line for a September call up next year, with a potential full time role in early 2014, but as we've seen before, prospects can and will break into the majors at their own pace, so keep Arcia's name in mind, because you'll likely hear about him as soon as next year.
So what has changed since then? Well, Minnesota shipped off two thirds of their starting outfield and promoted an equally as raw Aaron Hicks to the big leagues. There's reason to believe that Minnesota would be open to dealing Josh Willingham and part-time outfielder Ryan Doumit as well. Chris Parmelee isn't a long term answer either. Given Hicks rise to the starting lineup (and ignoring his subsequent troubles), it's not unreasonable to think that Arcia could see the majors leagues some time after the super two cutoff in June. A youth movement is afoot in Minnesota, and Arcia could and should be the beneficiary of that movement. He's gotten off to a white hot start in Triple-A, though small sample size renders that mostly moot.
This column isn't shedding any light on a prospect you haven't heard of. It's mainly a reminder that Arcia is likely to see time this season, and is probably more prepared for success at the major league level than Hicks is. Arcia lacks the 5-category potential that Hicks provides, but should be a steady source of power and counting stats with a solid average to boot, as both his hit and power tools rate as plus. While Arcia has too much cache to be called a sleeper, don't sleep on him.