Orlando Arcia Remains a Mystery

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Orlando Arcia remains a mystery.  He was promoted to be the Brewer’s starting shortstop in 2017, touted as a high-average hitter with developing power and good speed.  Yet where his strength truly lied was in his defense. Arcia has brought a cannon of an arm, superior range, and a glove like Velcro to the Brewers.  His hitting aside, Arcia’s glove kept him in the lineup as he continued to improve at the plate.

Arcia’s Struggles at the Plate

Orlando Arica’s 15 home runs and .277 average in 2017 left many fans optimistic for the future. However, hit just .236 in 2018, his second full season with the Brewers. This was a stark departure from his performance in the Brewer’s minor league system where he showed the ability to hit at or above the .300 with decent power.

Arica showed his real potential to hit in the 2018 NL Division series. He nearly helped the Brewers to a series win over the Dodgers, raking .360 with two home runs in 25 at-bats.  Brewer’s fans again saw hope for the future with Arcia, even with the series loss to end the season.

Orlando Arcia’s average continued to slide the following season, and sunk to a woeful .223 in 2019.  He suffered through a minor league assignment in July, after having hit just .197.  Arcia’s bat slightly rebounded after he returned to the Brewers for the remainder of that season as was able to .  Yet, he managed only 3 home runs for the season, again hitting at or near the bottom of the order.

The Move to Bring-in Urias

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The preverbal third strike against Arcia came after the 2019 season, where he struggled at the plate. His unanticipated 15 home runs could not make up for his low batting average, and the Brewers made an off-season trade with the San Diego Padres to acquire Luis Urias as a result.  Ranked as one of the Padres’ top infield prospects, Urias brings Arcia-like defense and offers a significant upgrade in hitting to the shortstop position, although he remains mostly unproven.  His acquisition was thought to spell the end of Arcia with the Brewers.  Or is it?

In the offseason, Urias suffered a broken bone in his left wrist while playing winter league ball. In January he underwent surgery and it appears he will miss the start of the 2020 season, and not return to play until after May.

This opened the door for Arcia to have another shot at returning to the starting lineup, and redeeming himself in the eyes of the fans.  With a hot bat this spring training, Arica has the opportunity to reclaim the shortstop position, at least temporarily.  In 13 spring training at-bats, he is currently hitting a scorching .383 with three home runs, eight RBI’s, and only one strikeout. 

A Good Problem to Have

If Arcia continues his hot hitting, Brewer’s management will be left with a personnel dilemma. Should they retain both Arcia and Urias or send one down to the minor league system? The latter seems to be the most likely move, as both players currently have minor league options remaining.  Arica’s trade value currently remains low, as even his current hot streak does not overshadow his major league struggle at the plate.

Arcia’s defense has never been in question.  He has continuously shown the soft hands and great arm needed to keep him on a major league roster. If he shows any form of consistency at the plate, it is hard not envisioning him at shortstop. So the question remains, what to do with Arcia? This will be a good problem to have, but for now, Orlando Arica remains a mystery. 

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