MINNEAPOLIS — One of the Minnesota Twins’ top prospects got his first taste of the majors on Monday, albeit a brief one.
The Twins recalled outfielder Oswaldo Arcia from Triple-A Rochester prior to Monday’s game against Los Angeles to take the roster spot of Wilkin Ramirez while Ramirez is on paternity leave. Arcia hit seventh for the Twins on Monday against the Angels and played left field. The 21-year-old Venezuela native went 1-for-3 in his major league debut.
After the game, though, Arcia was optioned to make room on the roster for Ramirez, who will rejoin the Twins on Tuesday after being with his wife for the birth of their daughter, Venus. Still, Arcia’s one-game exposure to life in the big leagues was a memorable one.
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“I’ll take away how we play the game here, watching everybody hit, watching people take pitches, watching people look for their pitches and how good it feels and how good it looks when you’re watching a game here in the major leagues,” Arcia said after Monday’s 8-2 win, with Twins bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar serving as a translator.
Arcia wasted little time getting his first Major League hit, as it came in his first big league at-bat. With one out in the second inning, Arcia singled to right field off Angels starter Joe Blanton on a 1-0 count. Arcia then took second base on an error by right fielder Josh Hamilton.
After a fly ball out in the fourth inning, Arcia nearly had his second hit when he sent a deep fly to left-center field. But Angels left fielder Mike Trout tracked it down on the warning track, ending what proved to be Arcia’s last at-bat of the night. He was taken out of the game for a defensive replacement in the eighth inning after he couldn’t handle a fly ball to left in the top of the seventh.
Still, Arcia left an impression on Twins manager Ron Gardenhire by the way he handled himself in the batter’s box Monday.
“It was fun to watch him walk to the plate. He’ll get plenty of opportunities doing what he’s doing in the minor leagues,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to hack. He’s fun to watch. He’ll get his time here. He’ll get plenty of it here.”
The 21-year-old Arcia is widely regarded as one of the Twins’ top prospects and was off to a hot start at Rochester. In nine games with the Red Wings, Arcia batted .414 with three home runs and eight RBI. Arcia does have some experience playing center field in the minors — 77 games — but has primarily been a right fielder.
The left-handed-hitting Arcia began the 2012 season at High-A Fort Myers but eventually was promoted to Double-A New Britain. In 69 games at Double A last year, he hit .328 with 10 homers, 20 doubles and 67 RBI.
“Last year I had a pretty good year. I figured hopefully this year I’d come back in spring training and show that I’m capable of helping a major league team,” “Unfortunately, I got hurt in spring training. I hurt my oblique a little bit. I didn’t let that stop me. I kept working hard. As I said before, I’m ready to go and try to help the team again.”
The oblique injury limited Arcia to just five games with the Twins this spring in the Grapefruit League, and he was optioned to minor league camp in mid-March. Still, he caught the attention of Gardenhire.
“I’ve liked this kid for a while here. I’ve seen him in instructional leagues and spring trainings and just love the way he swings the bat,” Gardenhire said. “He’s on a mission with a bat in his hand. He just doesn’t believe anybody can get him out. So I’ve always liked that.”
Arcia got word on Saturday after Rochester played a double-header that he’d be heading north to Minnesota to make his major league debut with the Twins. Sunday’s game against the Mets was postponed due to inclement weather, so Arcia had to wait a day before taking the field.
“Basically I’m doing the same thing from Double A. I prepare myself the best I can every day to be ready to play. I’ve been doing it there since Day 1 in Triple A,” Arcia said before Monday’s game. “Basically I haven’t really changed anything. My preparation’s the same. Hopefully now that I’m here my preparation will be the same for this game.”
At 21 years old, he is the youngest Twins player since 2006, when Alexi Casilla also played as a 21-year-old. With his single in the second inning, Arcia became the first player to get a hit in his first at-bat since Chris Parmelee did so on Sept. 6, 2011.
“I was very content. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Arcia said. “I got it there and hit it.”