The mid-season prospect re-evaluations roll on! Already named the 31st-best prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus, 11th by Minor League Ball and eighth (!) best by Baseball America, Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia has once again been ranked highly by a well-respected scouting source.
This time around, Keith Law of ESPN has Arcia at number 17 in his mid-season list of the top-50 prospects in baseball.
Here's what Law had to say about the 20-year-old infielder from Venezuela:
Arcia showed off his glove and instincts in the Futures Game on Sunday, and he's by far the Brewers' best prospect right now and one of only two players in the system with a real chance to become a grade-60 or better regular (along with just-drafted outfielder Trenton Clark). While Arcia is just 20 and has only 327 minor league games played in the U.S., due in part to an injury that cost him the 2012 season, he's advanced enough defensively that the Brewers should entertain offers on Jean Segura or consider moving him to second base to make room.
Arcia's calling-card, if you haven't noticed yet, is his stellar defense at shortstop. He's always been well-regarded in that regard and figures to push Jean Segura off the position at some point in the next couple of years (if Segura is still around). What's really pushed Arcia to new heights of late is his bat catching up to that defensive prowess.
Currently, Arcia is the youngest player on Double-A Biloxi's roster. There are only a small handful of players in the Southern league younger than Arcia, and even fewer who start consistently. But over 81 games, he has hit .315/.355/.466 with a dozen stolen bases. Arcia has the speed to swipe 30+ bags in a season, a trait that will also help net a ton of extra base hits as he continues to develop gap power. Arcia is one of the very youngest players in the Southern League, but he's also probably already the best.
One interesting thing about Law's snippet, though, is the line: "one of only two players in the system with a real chance to become a grade-60 or better regular (along with just-drafted outfielder Trenton Clark)." That's real interesting to me, because it means Law is really down on a lot of Brewers prospects that others seem to like.
If you're unfamiliar, a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale implies a 'plus' player, someone likely to be an All Star a couple of times. If Law is including Clark as a player in the organization who has a chance to reach that, I find it interesting that he doesn't also feel that way about, say, Monte Harrison. Others who could be around there, at least with their talent level: Tyrone Taylor, Jake Gatewoord, Kodi Medeiros, maybe even Clint Coulter? Gilbert Lara? I would say Harrison at least should be there if Clark is included, but, hey, I'm certainly no Keith Law.
Regardless of how Law feels about the rest of the Brewers' system, it's clear it's a farm on the rise. Many of the team's top prospects are still years away, but Arcia could be called up to the majors as early as September for a brief call-up. By 2017, he might be the team's starting shortstop.
Though the major league squad is struggling, it's an exciting time for the Brewers' minor league system. Arcia is hopefully just the first of what will be a string of gems.