MLB Pipeline continued it's Top 10 Prospects by positions series last night and finally gave us a Brewer prospect to talk about. After his offensive breakout in 2015 at AA Biloxi, the Brewers' own Orlando Arcia was named as the third-best shortstop prospect overall, behind only Corey Seager of the Dodgers and J.P. Crawford of the Phillies.
Rounding out the rest of the list was Dansby Swanson, now with the Braves after being drafted #1 by Arizona last June, Trea Turner of the Nationals, Brendan Rodgers of the Rockies, Alex Bregman from Houston, Franklin Barreto of Oakland, Gleybar Torres of the Cubs, and Ozhaino Albies also of Atlanta.
This exercise should be a good reminder of how top prospects lists shouldn't be taken as gospel but more as a snapshot in time. Arcia's individual grades have taken a significant jump since 2015's list due in part to his terrific campaign on the field. MLB Pipeline now lists his grades as follows, versus what they were one year ago:
Hit: 60 || 50
Power: 45 || 35
Run: 60 || 55
Arm: 60 || 60
Field: 65 || 60
Overall: 65 || 60
Last season for the championship runner-up Shuckers, Arcia set new full-season highs in each of the triple slash categories with a .307/.347/.453 line in 129 games. He slugged 52 extra base hits and stole 25 bases and his total offensive contributions were measured at 26% better than league average, according to wRC+.
According to his updated MLB Pipeline profile, Arcia is a gifted defender with soft hands, a strong arm, and excellent range and should compete for Gold Gloves soon after reaching the big leagues. He improved his quality of contact in 2015 that allowed him to tap into his raw power more during games, hence the big boost in slugging and extra base hits. Scouts rave about his makeup and maturity and believe that the total package of his premium defense and improved offense could make him an All-Star caliber player at the big league level, someone who can hit .300 with 20+ steals year-in and year-out.
So far with only outfielders remaining to be revealed just five total prospects, regardless of position, have a grade better than or equal to Arcia's rating of 65. It's probably safe to assume that he should easily land inside the top 10 overall when MLB Pipeline reveals their top 100 prospect list next week. Simply put, Orlando Arcia is the Brewers' highest regarded and most lauded prospect since Ryan Braun made his debut in 2007.
Of course, the Brewers do have good depth at shortstop in their system beyond Arcia. Jean Segura has been manning the position everyday for the big league club for the last three-plus seasons and has a reputation as a good defender. There has been some speculation that he could be moved to second base eventually to make room for Arcia at short, though Segura's anemic bat (which is already well below the average shortstop's) would play very poorly at the keystone. While the average second baseman posted a 94 wRC+ in 2015, Segura's totals over the past two seasons have been 66 and 62. That means his offensive contributions were roughly 30% worse than what should be expected from an average second baseman. It would be much more beneficial to the club to try and trade Segura as a shortstop, because almost no matter how good his defense is at second base he'll probably still be a below replacement level player thanks to his ineptness at the plate.
Beyond Segura and top prospect Arcia, the Brewers recently acquired former top prospect Jonathan Villar from Houston, a versatile defender who has spend most of his time at short and has the potential to become about a league-average hitter. Rookie Yadiel Rivera is another slick-fielding shortstop that, like Segura, is lacking offensive chops. He may be an even better defender than Arcia, but his eventual MLB role is most likely a utility player thanks to his lackluster skills with the bat. Both should have an opportunity to make an impact in the big leagues this season, especially Villar who is out of minor league options and could slide into a platoon at second base.
Down in the lower levels of the minors, Milwaukee has Jake Gatewood and Gilbert Lara as two young players with star potential to dream on. Both have plus-plus raw power and have held their own defensively at shortstop so far in their young careers, though each will likely have to move off the position to either third base or the outfield at some point in the future as they move closer to the big leagues. Gatewood will probably begin the season in low-A Appleton and Lara may have to wait until short season ball starts in June to make his 2016 debut, likely with the rookie level Helena Brewers.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs