Orlando Arcia is the top prospect of the Milwaukee Brewers. Now, in recent years, being the top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers system was like being the best looking Duck Dynasty character, but Arcia is a particularly exciting prospect in his own right no matter what the state of the Brewers system is these days (which, thanks to some recent trades, is now much improved).
Arcia was signed by the Brewers back in 2011 at the tender age of 16, as a shortstop. Unlike many so-called shortstop prospects, Arcia was athletic enough with his range, glove, and arm to remain at shortstop in his first year in the Dominican Summer League, where he compiled a solid .294/.386/.459 line (average, On-base percentage, Slugging percentage) in 218 at bats, and striking out just 20 times. In other words, his hit tool was promising, his plate discipline looked good, and he had enough sting in his bat to keep pitchers honest.
In 2012, Arcia was out for the whole year with a severe ankle injury, but came back healthy in 2013. Healthy doesn’t mean good, as Arcia struggled with the bat, although he did steal 20 bases, showing his ankle was back to normal. However, at this point, no one expected much from Arcia; he was just one of a jillion prospects in low-A who had promising tools, but no results so far. Most of these sorts of players wash out completely.
However, in 2014, Arcia played the full year at Brevard County in the High-A Florida State League. The Florida State League is a tough league for hitters, and Brevard County in particular is a tough place to hit, so Arcia’s .289/.346/.392 was actually very impressive for the league, considering he was still only 19 years old. The 31 stolen bases also were a nice positive and of course, so was his continued ability to play the shortstop position capably. At this point, Arcia started getting a modicum of prospect love, but no one was willing to make him a top 100 prospect just yet.
That is, until now. Last season, Arcia played the whole year at double-A Biloxi and raked to a tune of .307/.347/.453 in 512 at bats while also stealing 25 bases, all the while playing solid defense… at age 20. Now, suddenly Arcia is not just a top 100 prospect, he is a top 30 prospect in many lists.
Count me in as a big fan! I believe Arcia will continue to develop more and more power (he hit 8 homers last year, consistently hitting 15-20 per year in the majors is not an unreasonable expectation). This, coupled with his solid hitting skills and 25-30 stolen-base speed makes Arcia a budding fantasy superstar! However, while I am probably more bullish on Arcia than others in the long term, I am more bearish on him in the short term. I don’t think Milwaukee will promote Arcia anytime soon, and maybe not even at all this season. Arcia will spend most of the year in triple-A continuing to develop and while there is indeed an opening at shortstop due to the recent Segura trade, Milwaukee has no need to rush their top prospect.
If you can, stash Arcia for 2017 and beyond. He will be a wonderful player, contributing in every fantasy category, and will be more valuable than many of his higher touted shortstop brethren due to his stolen base acumen. However… don’t expect a whole lot in 2016. Be patient with Arcia, and you will be rewarded.