Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Arcia’s Awesome Appalachian Achievement
Down in the short-season Appalachian League, a Twins prospect put together one of the best minor league seasons in baseball. Oswaldo Arcia's 2010 season got off to a fast start and he carried it through most of the season. He certainly opened many eyes around baseball when he hit .375/.424/.672 with 21 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs this year in just 283 plate appearances as a 19 year old. The average age of a hitter in the Appalachian League in 2010 was 20.3. Arcia turned 19 just six weeks before the season started.
Could anyone have anticipated this type of performance from the young Venezuelan outfielder? Here is what I wrote in last year's Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook:
Oswaldo Arcia – OF – (5/9/91)
Acquired: Signed as F/A in July 2007 from Dominican Republic
2009 Team(s): GCL Twins
2009 Stats: .275/.337/.455, 11-2B, 3-3B, 5 HR, 24 RBI
The Twins decided Arcia was ready to come to the States for the 2009 season after hitting .293/.343/.432 with 12 doubles, four triples, four homers and eight stolen bases at the age of 17 for the Dominican Summer League team in 2008. Though he was one of the youngest players in the Gulf Coast League, he more than held his own. He struck out only 18 times in 207 plate appearances while drawing 15 walks. Arcia’s 19 extra base hits put him in the Top 10 in the league in slugging percentage. He is a good base runner. He was also successful on all eight of his stolen-base attempts. Arcia is a good all-around ball player, capable of playing all three outfield positions. He is a five-tool talent who can be expected to go back to Extended Spring Training in 2010 and put up big numbers at Elizabethton.
"Put up big numbers at Elizabethton."
No one could have anticipated the extent of the big numbers he put up in 2010. Here is the first draft of what I wrote about Arcia for the 2011 version of the Twins Prospect Handbook:
Oswaldo Arcia’s 2010 season was one of the best in the history of the Appalachian League. Among players with more than 160 at bats, Arcia had the highest Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. He led the league in hits by 16 (with 97) and RBI (51). He finished second in home runs (14), three behind Pulaski’s (Mariners) Ramon Morla. He also was one behind the league leader with seven triples. He was third in the league in doubles (21) and Runs Scored (47). Arcia may have tired late in the season. He homered twice on August 3rd, but he did not hit another home run in the final 23 games of his season. That said, he had four doubles and three triples, and he had seven multi-hit games in that span.
For much of the Appy League season, there wasn’t a pitch that Arcia could not hit. If a pitcher went inside on him, he would pull the ball down the line, or over the fence in right centerfield. If they worked him away, he had the power to hit home runs to left field. But Arcia is more than just a hitter. Defensively, he has good speed. He runs smoothly, looking like he is jogging, but then he would catch everything. He played equal time in centerfield and right field, and he did not commit an error for the season. He has an above-average arm. Arcia showed an improved maturity in 2010 and as the season went along, he became a leader for the E-Twins.
So what does Arcia's monster 2010 season mean in terms of his prospect status? Coming into the season, I had him ranked as the Twins #24 prospect. This year, he's clearly a Top 10 Twins Prospect.
But what does it mean for his big league future? I went back to 1990 and looked at all of the Elizabethton Twins with OPS of greater than .950 (Arcia's was 1.096). Here are the Top 15 E-Town seasons in that time (based on OPS, minimum 130 plate appearances). As you read it, consider each player's big league success.
Ruben Salazar had a decent minor league career but was a victim of the Luis Rivas Era! Paul Russo followed this season up with 20 homers and 100 RBI in the Midwest League. He jumped to AA the next year and hit 22 home runs there. He was in AAA by 1993, but never got a cup of coffee despite staying in AAA (with several organizations) until 1999. Rochester's Michael Restovich did reach the big leagues with the Twins but at about the same time as "Dusty Kielmohr" so he didn't get much chance with the Twins. He moved on after the 2004 season and had 297 plate appearances in the big leagues. He has played for seven organizations since 2004, and spent a year in Japan. Looking at this list, there are some players that didn't advance to AA. There are some players, like Salazar and West, who have played well with independent league teams. And there is that catcher from St. Paul who has put together a Hall of Fame career to this point who put up great Appy League numbers at the age of 18. That's the reason that Angel Morales is so highly regarded as well. His impressive Appy League performance was also at the age of 18.
But the high-level overview is that Oswaldo Arcia put together a tremendous 2010 campaign as a 19 year old in the Appalachian League. What does it mean going forward? Who knows? That's why watching and following minor league baseball is so fun and interesting.