The Situation: Milwaukee has gone from having one of the worst systems in baseball just a few short years ago to having one of the very best in baseball. On Tuesday, we’ll get to see one of the very best in that system: shortstop Orlando Arcia.
Background: The Brewers gave Arcia $95,000 in the fall of 2011 to procure his services out of Venezuela; a modest—but not insignificant—amount of money. The following year he impressed in the Dominican Summer League, but he didn’t get a chance to build on it after breaking his ankle in spring training, costing him all of the 2012 season. After two pedestrian offensive years in Low and High-A in 2013 and 2014, Arcia took a massive step forward in 2015, hitting .307/.347/.453 in Double-A Biloxi. The 2016 season hasn’t been as impressive, but he has hit a respectable .268/.320/.404 in the friendly confines of the PCL for Colorado Springs, and the Brewers believe he’s ready to show off his talents at the major league level.
Scouting Report: Arcia has excellent hand-eye coordination that, along with a short stroke that gets through the zone quickly, allows him to make a lot of contact. When he’s “right” he’s able to generate enough bat speed to make that hard contact, but in 2016, the hands have had a tendency to start late, so there’s been too much weak contact. There is sneaky power in his right-handed bat, and although it’s mostly gap-to-gap, he can turn on pitches in the middle-half of the plate, and double-digit homer seasons are not out of the question. He’s a very aggressive hitter, and while that leads to a lower amount of strikeouts, it also leads to a less than ideal number of walks.
Arcia certainly has some offensive ability, but the reason he’s one of the best shortstop prospects in baseball is defense. Arcia is a plus runner, and he uses his athleticism to make plays to his left and right with ease. He also has a strong arm with plenty of carry, so those balls he gets to in the gap can turn into outs rather than just keeping runners at bay. If J.P Crawford is the best defensive shortstop prospect (not counting the guys who have no chance to ever be big-league regulars) Arcia is a close second.
Immediate Big-League Future: As talented as Arcia is, if there’s been one complaint about him this year, it’s that he hasn’t looked terribly motivated at times during the 2016 season. The word “lethargic” has come up several times, both at the plate and in the field. Whether that’s due to not being interested in playing in Triple-A or some other reason, it doesn’t really matter. The only reason I bring this up is because if it was a case of the “I shouldn’t be here” blues, it shouldn’t carry over. Arcia is ready to make a difference defensively right now, and there’s just enough offensive ability to project him as a first-division regular in the long-term. —Christopher Crawford
Fantasy Take: Arcia joins the majors at a time when young shortstops are stampeding the league. We’re in a Golden Age of Shortstops, of sorts, which is evidenced by the fact that uber-prospect Carlos Correa is hitting .266/.364/.465 with 15 homers and 10 stolen bases… yet isn’t a top-10 fantasy shortstop in ESPN leagues. In that way, Arcia doesn’t project to immediately be an impact producer at the position. He’s hitting .268/.320/.404 with eight homers and 15 stolen bases in Triple-A Colorado Springs. The high elevation inflated his power numbers, but he’s also likely to hit for better average than he’s shown this year. Fantasy owners can expect a .280-ish hitter with 8-12 homers and 20-plus stolen bases over the course of an entire season. That used to be an easy top-10 option at shortstop, just not these days.
For dynasty owners, one of the big, long-term benefits to someone like Arcia is that he’s defensively gifted and should remain at the position. While Ian Desmond, Manny Machado, Corey Seager, and others project to lose their shortstop eligibility in the coming years, Arcia should retain his premium positional eligibility. That makes his long-term fantasy outlook a little brighter; however, our midseason top-50 prospect list had 12 players listed as shortstops. One wonders if that Golden Age of Shortstops isn’t ending in the near future.
Fantasy owners in non-keeper and non-dynasty leagues should feel comfortable bidding $13-16 in mixed leagues and probably $30-33 in NL-onlies. He’s a better real-life prospect than a fantasy one, but his well-rounded production and his penchant for stealing bases still give him plenty of value for an owner making a championship run. Keeper leagues that allow midseason additions to be kept for 2017 should bid more, of course, while dynasty owners shouldn’t even bother trying to find him on the waiver wire. He’s almost certainly been gone for a long, long time. —J.P. Breen
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