Lost in a third straight 90-plus loss season for the Minnesota Twins in 2013 was the success of outfielder Oswaldo Arcia in his first big league action. He finished poorly, with a .222 batting average (42-for-189) and a .662 OPS with the Twins from July 1 on as wrist and knee issues led to him being in and out of the lineup after being recalled from Triple-A in early August, but he still finished with 14 home runs and 43 RBI along with a slash-line of .251/.304/.430 in 97 games (378 plate appearances) and looks like a future fixture in Minnesota’s lineup.
Arcia hit .254 with three home runs and 11 RBI against left-handed pitching last year, and his OPS (.659) was notably lower than against right-handers (.769), but he hit .278 with a .781 OPS against southpaws in his last full minor league season (2012) and having some major league experience under his belt can only help in 2014.
Arcia saw time in both right (28 starts) and left field (54 starts) as a rookie last season, and it’s fair to assume he’ll be used similarly this year with Josh Willingham likely slated for plenty of time at DH after an injury-plagued 2013 season. Chris Parmelee and Jason Kubel may also enter the mix for at-bats at the corner outfield spots with strong showings during spring training, but they are likely battling for one roster spot and Arcia’s spot on the Twins’ Opening Day roster is assured as long as he is healthy.
Arcia struck out a lot (117 times, with a 66.7 percent contact rate) and did not walk often (23 times; a 6.1 percent walk rate) last season, but his minor league track record (8.2 percent walk rate, 78.9 percent contact rate) suggests room for improvement in some key peripherals and that should drive improvement in his surface numbers this year. A true breakout may not come until 2015, but if he can avoid nagging injuries late in the season I think Arcia will make a strong case to be a mainstay in the Twins’ lineup for many years to come this year.