Day after birthday, Arcia breaks out

21-year-old goes 4-for-5, homers, doubles twice in Miracle win

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to | May 10, 2012 9:18 PM ET

Oswaldo Arcia must not be a very big fan of birthdays.

The Venezuelan-born outfielder has gotten a hit in every game he's played in during May -- except Wednesday, when he went 0-for-4 on the day he turned 21. He broke out with a 4-for-5 day Thursday, though, homering and doubling twice in Class A Advanced Fort Myers' 12-11 win over Dunedin.

Arcia also scored twice and drove in four runs with his big night, raising his average 25 points to .295. Minnesota's No. 3 prospect has always impressed Fort Myers manager Jake Mauer -- who first coached Arcia as an 18-year-old with the Twins' Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2009 -- with his athletic potential.

Lately, though, Mauer said he's seen Arcia match his physical talent with a more advanced approach at the plate.

"When I had him in the GCL, as a young kid, he was more of a pull hitter," said Mauer. "He had what we call a predetermined swing, where he'd try to hit the ball 500 feet. Now he's starting to understand what's going on with what pitchers are trying to do to him. He's taking more pitches, getting in offensive counts.

"The difference between April and May here is that he's not missing the pitch when he's in those offensive counts."

After Thursday, Arcia is hitting .395 over nine games in May. Mauer also noted he's been encouraged by the level of leadership the 2007 international signee has displayed in the Miracle clubhouse.

"He's taken on more of that leadership role, which we were hoping he would do," said Mauer. "He's starting to grasp English, and that's helping him be more of a leader. It's also the little stuff he does, like two nights ago we were getting beat 16-4, and he hits a ground ball to second and runs down the first base line in 4.2 seconds. He's leading by example, which is pretty encouraging for us."

Arcia is finding his groove in 2012 after posting big years the previous two seasons. Between Class A Beloit and Fort Myers last season, he hit a combined .285 with 13 home runs in 79 games. The year before with short-season Elizabethton, he batted .375 with 14 homers in 64 games.

On Thursday, every bit of his offensive output was necessary as the Miracle went toe-to-toe with the Blue Jays in what Mauer described as a "shootout." After scoring three runs in the top half of the first, Fort Myers had fallen behind, 7-3, by the third.

Arcia, the second batter of the inning, hit a two-run shot. Michael Gonzales followed that up four batters later with a three-run homer, and two batters after that, Daniel Santana capped the seven-run inning with a solo shot.

The Miracle added two more runs, which would prove to be decisive, in the sixth and reliever Bruce Pugh fired off two scoreless innings to finish the game for the save.

"It was big. They had the tying run on second with one out, and we were able to hold onto the lead and win a game," said Mauer. "Whenever you get into a game like that, you just hope you're on the positive side and we're fortunate enough to be on it."

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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