It took him six seasons, but when Oswaldo Arcia finally reached the majors after over half a decade in the minor leagues, the 22-year-old Venezuelan made the most of the opportunity—to a certain extent.
Indeed, the young outfielder smashed 14 home runs in just 351 at bats in his rookie campaign, including a solid 43 RBI, but that came at the price of 117 strikeouts (one every three at-bats) and a disappointing .304 OBP.
The extreme strikeout rate and failure to reach base consistently both came as a bit of a surprise for Arcia, who never had great plate discipline in the minors but also didn’t strike out at a Canseco-esque rate like he did in the majors.
Even so, improving his disappointing .251 batting average might just be a matter of adjusting to big league pitching. After all, Arcia did bat .314 in more than 1,500 at-bats across all levels of the minors, including .313 with a 1.020 OPS at Triple-A before being called up in 2013.
It’s clear that Arcia’s greatest asset is his seemingly limitless potential. According to FanGraphs, the Twins outfielder ranked 14th in the majors in average home run and fly ball distance, and his batted ball distance of 303 feet made him one of only 16 players to surpass the 300-foot mark.
Of those 16 players, Arcia’s HR/FB rate was the lowest (again via FanGraphs), meaning he could be set for an improvement in the home run department if his HR/FB rate levels out a bit. A strikeout rate more in line with Arcia’s minor league average could further work toward even better power numbers.
A couple other signs point toward improved numbers for Arcia as well. Last year, the Twins outfielder shuffled between the minors and the majors constantly. This season, however, he'll be guaranteed a starting spot, likely near the middle of the lineup. Arcia also dealt with nagging knee and wrist injuries, even putting him on the DL at one point. A fully healthy season with consistent playing time could work wonders.
The bottom line is that we know Arcia can hit—it’s just a matter of translating that ability to success in the majors. And for what it’s worth, Arcia has also looked fantastic this spring. He’s hitting .321 with a .935 OPS and four extra base hits in 28 at bats.
The factors all seem to point toward a breakout season for the Twins outfielder in 2014. That’s not to say he’ll morph into Mike Trout, but it’s reasonable to expect a steady improvement, if not a dramatic one, in 2014. Better yet, Arcia is being selected, on average, as the 55th outfielder in NFBC drafts, with an ADP of 272.29. That means you’ll be able to find him near the end of 12-team drafts, and even in the later rounds of larger leagues.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. For risky, high-reward players who are available at the end of drafts, why not? You don’t have much to lose, so why not go for the player who has the potential to outperform his draft position? Finding players who can do that is how you win your fantasy league, making Oswaldo Arcia at least worth your consideration.