By Rich Arleo
Oswaldo Arcia, Outfielder, Minnesota Twins
2013 season (minors): 38 G, 128 AB, .313 BA, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB, 1.020 OPS
2013 season (majors): 97 G, 351 AB, .251 BA, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 1 SB, .734 OPS
Losing 96 games, the Minnesota Twins didn’t have many bright spots during the 2013 season. But one of them was the emergence of 22-year-old outfielder Oswaldo Arcia.
Arcoa was signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela at the age of 17. He showed decent pop and a good contact rate throughout his time in the minors, eventually ranking as the Twins’ No. 3 prospect and the overall No. 41 prospect in Baseball America following the 2012 season.
Arcia began his sixth season in the Twins’ organization at Triple-A. Rochester.Having only played half-season at Double-A New Britain, he was expected to spend at least a good portion of the year in Triple-A. But that plan changed out of necessity. He made his major league debut with the Twins in the middle of April, going 1-for-3. The young outfielder was sent back down after one game but returned shortly for a more extended look.
Arcia bounced back and forth between Rochester and Minnesota a few more times and also sat out with wrist and knee injuries. In 38 games for Rochester, he boasted a slash line of .313/.426/.594 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI. In 97 games for the Twins, he hit just .251 but uncorked 14 home runs and 43 RBIs.
This season, Arcia is all but guaranteed a spot on the Twins’ Opening Day roster and should stick as an everyday outfielder. His six seasons in the minors provide some indication of his potential. In that time, he hit .314 with a .915 OPS, 63 home runs and 290 RBI. He stole just 29 bases and was caught 20 times.
Arcia has 20-homer potential, but can he provide anything else for the Twins in 2014? Though he hit just .251 in the majors last year, his career 8.2 percent walk rate and 78.9 percent contact rate in the minors suggest likely improvement with consistent major league at-bats. Speed, however, is definitely not his game.
The Twins have a clear need in the outfield (their collective .668 OPS in 2013 ranked last in the majors). Slugger Josh Willingham had knee issues last year and at age 35, the Twins’ best power bat seems likely to spend more time at DH this season. The team brought back Jason Kubel this off-season on a minor league contract, but he played just 97 games last year between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians and mustered just a .220 average with five home runs. He’ll need to have a very strong spring to make the roster.
That leaves the corner outfield spots pretty much wide open. And given his strong minor league track record, Arcia is not only their best option at the moment but possibly a missing link for the team. He’ll be just 23 entering his seventh professional season, so there are likely to be growing pains. He may not truly break out right away, but the Twins just need him to provide a some consistency at the plate while gaining experience in the majors. As long as Arcia stays healthy, he’ll be a mainstay in the lineup.
Next up: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox