With 25-man rosters set, each team goes into the season looking to compete immediately with the pickups they made in the offseason. But as we saw around the MLB in the 2015, the midseason callups can have as big of an impact as the players obtained in free agency. This series will detail the 5 prospects in the NL looking to make the biggest impact on their respective teams this season.
For the purposes of this series, we will set a few baseline criteria:
- The prospect cannot have any previous Major League experience.
- The prospect must already be reasonably close to the MLB.
- The prospect must play a position of need for his big-league squad, and this need cannot be due to injury.
Be sure to check out the impact cases for the prospects previously covered:
3. Orlando Arcia, MIL, SS
The Brewers are so excited for their shortstop of the future, Orlando Arcia, that they traded 2015 starting shortstop Jean Segura in the offseason. Their excitement is well-placed, as Arcia was ranked the #5 prospect in baseball by MLB.com and graded as a potential All-Star. Arcia has displayed very impressive talent to this point, and at the highly valuable shortstop position no less. He has the ability to become an impact player in several facets of the game, at a position in which the Brewers currently lack production.
Arcia starts the 2016 season in AAA Colorado Springs, after posting an impressive performance at AA Biloxi last year. In 552 PA, Arcia registered a .367 wOBA with a 126 wRC+, throwing in 25 SBs in 33 attempts, for a 75.8% success rate. Notably, Arcia did this while having a well below-average K% of 13.2% and only a moderately high BABIP of .343. This falls in line with expectations, as Arcia’s bat and legs are rated as “plus” talents, just below potential All-Star level. While these stats are what catch attention and high grades, it may be his defense that rates most impressively. Fangraphs thinks that Arcia has what it takes to quickly assert himself as a Gold Glove candidate, praising his range and arm strength. With these talents at the shortstop position, in addition to the plus hitting and running tools, it is easy to see why Arcia rates so highly overall. The only tool he is “lacking” in, power, can still be developed as the young 21 year-old matures, making Arcia a bona fide option for the Brewers going forward.
Because the Brewers are short on credible options, Arcia has a great opportunity to make an impact as soon as this year. After trading Segura in the offseason, Milwaukee acquired Jonathan Villar and promoted Yadiel Rivera. Segura had a solid beginning to his career, being named an All-Star in 2013 in his first full year in the majors and contributing 4.0 bWAR. But after this, his career arc flattened in 2014 and 2015, tallying OPS+ around 70 each year, and accruing less than 1 total bWAR combined. While still only 26, the Brewers decided to move on and pursue different options.
One of the interim options, Villar has previously shown some promise, posting a .328 wOBA and 107 wRC+ last year with Houston in a small sample of 128 PAs. However, this was also done with a lucky .360 BABIP. As this was Villar’s best professional hitting performance so far, it does not seem that he is likely to become more than an average batter even at his luckiest. To add to this, his glove at SS rates as average to below-average in his 1362 innings played, putting him another step behind Arcia. While Villar definitely can contribute legitimate major-league talent, it is probably not as an everyday player. A nice situation for the Brewers would be to have Villar post modest success, call up Arcia, and have a nice combination of 3 middle infielders to rotate between Arcia, Villar, and the sure-hitting Scooter Gennett. This will give the Brewers solid depth going forward, as each of the three are young and cost-controlled.
As for Rivera, he is a prototypical example of the no-bat, great-glove shortstop, posting a .258 wOBA and 48 wRC+ last year in very hitter-friendly Colorado Springs. Rivera displays little power (.303 SLG last year) and poor plate discipline (3.3% BB%), but his glove and ability to play multiple positions might keep him on the team. That being said, he is not a candidate to take playing time away from either Villar or Arcia.
Walk-Off Hit: Orlando Arcia 2016 Impact Outlook
With Arcia’s fast ascension to AAA, advanced defense, and already promising hitting development, he is a candidate to take over the everyday shortstop role for the Brewers possibly as early as June. A particularly slow start by Villar may accelerate this timeline, but the Brewers are also known for their careful progression of prospects, making it less likely. What is likely is that Arcia will make an immediate impact for the Brewers with his legs and glove, with the ability to help them even further with his bat. The Brewers do not project as a great team this year, but Arcia’s debut will be a very bright spot for an otherwise inconsequential season.
What do you think? Will Orlando Arcia supplant new Brewers shortstop Jonathan Villar this year? Will the Brewers be careful with his development, possibly delaying an appearance until 2017? What other prospects do you think belong on this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @SaberBallBlog. Don’t forget to subscribe to SaberBallBlog by clicking the green “Follow” button in the menu, and follow on Twitter for all of the latest updates on the MLB!