Frosty Microbrews: Arcia's Arrival

Orlando Arcia in action as a Wisconsin Timber Rattler from 2013. (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers/Ann Mollica)

By Kyle Lobner / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | August 17, 2016 4:16 PM

For many Timber Rattlers fans, it was an event three years in the making.

On August 2, after years atop lists of the Milwaukee Brewers' and Major League Baseball's top minor league prospects, 2013 Timber Rattlers shortstop Orlando Arcia was called up to the big leagues for the first time. He learned he was getting the call a day earlier, from AAA Colorado Springs manager Rick Sweet.

"I got to the stadium and I wasn't in the lineup," Arcia said via Brewers team translator Carlos Brizuela. "I went up to the manager to ask him why, and he said, 'Don't worry. Just be ready and I'll talk to you later.' And then after the game he came up to me and told me the news."

Arcia said the first people he told about his promotion were his parents. Not long after, Orlando's brother and former Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia broke the news on Instagram. The elder Arcia has 272 games of MLB experience over the last four seasons with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays.

"He's always helped me a lot, and even when I finally got the call he just told me, 'keep working hard, don't give up, and keep having fun while you're at it,'" Arcia said.

Back in the Timber Rattlers' clubhouse, Arcia's callup was exciting news. Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson also managed Arcia during his time in the Midwest League, and described it as a "great feeling" to see another one of his former players advancing to the big league level.

"The more time I spend with the Brewers and the more guys that get called up, it's a neat situation for myself personally," Erickson said. "Being from here, being a lifelong Brewers fan and with David (Brewers general manager David Stearns) coming in and trying to turn this thing around, acquiring players and more talent, and then you get through the trading deadline and the day after you get one of your homegrown getting the call to the big leagues and getting an opportunity to show what he's all about on the biggest stage."

At the time of his call, Arcia was the only member of the 2013 Timber Rattlers (excluding several players who appeared for Wisconsin on major league rehab assignments) on the Brewers' major league roster. Outfielder Michael Reed and pitcher Jorge Lopez made their MLB debuts in 2015, but returned to the minor leagues in 2016. Pitcher Tyler Wagner also debuted with the Brewers in 2015 before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the offseason. Pitcher Damien Magnifico joined Arcia in the majors on August 16.

The list of other former Timber Rattlers on the Brewers' active roster includes pitchers Wily Peralta (who played with Wisconsin in 2009), Jimmy Nelson (2011), Tyler Thornburg (2011), Jacob Barnes (2012), Martin Maldonado (2009) and Scooter Gennett (2010). Tyler Cravy (2012) was also called up for a day to fill an extra roster spot for Milwaukee's doubleheader on August 16.

Arcia was in the starting lineup for the first time on the day of his callup on August 2 and picked up his first MLB hit, an RBI single, on August 5. At 22 years and one day old, Arcia was the youngest Brewer to collect his first MLB hit since Alcides Escobar in 2008.

"I was very happy with it, especially since it was an RBI too and we were able to tie the game with that hit," Arcia said.

Arcia gave the ball from that hit to his mother. Since then he's collected several more career-opening milestones: His first multi-hit game and runs on August 6, his first double on August 8 and his first triple and stolen base on August 11. Meanwhile, he's impressed his new manager with his defensive skills.

"I think he comes as advertised, so to speak," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Defensively, he makes difficult things look pretty easy and his hands are pretty apparent. He just makes difficult things look easy. He makes them look more routine. So he's done a really nice job defensively."

As a longtime MLB shortstop, Counsell is well-positioned to evaluate Arcia's work in the field. So far he said he's been impressed with his new shortstop's work turning double plays, noting Arcia's ability to quickly transfer the ball from his glove to his throwing hand and to brush over second base with his foot while making the turn.

"It feels like sleight of hand sometimes," Counsell said. "With the good defenders it feels like a bit of sleight of hand sometimes, but they're getting it done."

Offensively, Counsell described Arcia's developing game as "what we all expected."

"He has great bat-to-ball skills, the ability to make contact, now it's just going to be refining some of his approach," Counsell said. "All the skills are there to be a very successful major league hitter. And he will be."

Counsell has been with the Brewers' organization as a member of the front office and manager through nearly all of Arcia's professional career, so he has a good deal of familiarity with his development and skillset. Nonetheless, he said that there are things Arcia will have to see for himself to develop at the big league level.

"We sometimes know what the players are good at and what they're going to be challenged by at the big league level, but experience is also a teacher," Counsell said. "Right now I feel like he's understanding what he's going to be challenged by, and we've just got to live through it now and get better at it."

For Arcia, the goal is clear at this point: He's hoping to use the last two months of this season to learn and work towards a role in the major leagues in 2017.

"Just keep working hard, trying to learn as much as I can, that way I can be here next year for Opening Day," Arcia said.

Back at Neuroscience Group Field, Erickson said the Timber Rattlers schedule doesn't allow him to watch Arcia's games at the MLB level every day, but he's catching highlights and following along with the organization's daily reports.

"Everybody within the player development (department) has really enjoyed watching Orlando grow through the different levels and many of them feel he is ready and this is his time," Erickson said. "So I wish him the best of luck, hopefully he fits into that clubhouse, makes that ballclub a little better through the end of the season and finds his place for many years to come in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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