Like many of you I'm in a fantasy baseball league that places value on getting prospects early, but unlike Dynasty league, my league's rules place much more value on prospects who will produce in MLB this year than in future years -- we can only keep a player for two years before deciding whether to boost his salary and add an additional one or two years; any extension counts against your active roster budget but no extension means you lose him to free agency after year 3.
So in my league, timing is critical. One of my fellow owners nabbed Wil Myers in 2010 but lost him to the free agent pool at the end of last year.
Also, because we are allowed up to 15 keepers, many top prospects are protected, leaving us with a more limited pool of talent. The key, then, is to find un-appreciated talent with a clear road map to the majors that can pay dividends sooner rather than later.
That was in mind Saturday when I found myself in a position of having spent most of my $260 budget with some roster spots to fill, including an outfield slot. Bradley Jr. and Hicks were not available -- they had been kept over from last year by rival owners. Myers had been nominated earlier and had gone for $20. So with $1 to spend, I asked myself which outfield was most likely to get a chance this year and produce and no one came to mind except for Arcia.
The Twins are in full-scale re-build mode having shed two starting outfielders last year. That left them with an underwhelming and converted first baseman in Chris Parmelee to patrol one corner outfield spot. The Twins would also love to move Justin Morneau this season. If either Parmelee struggles again or Morneau is traded, Arcia may be first in line.
Despite missing half a year in 2011, Arcia has progressed rapidly in the Minors and is starting this season in AAA Rochester. He has shown string contact ability and power while improving his one area of weakness as a hitter - plate discipline, even as he moved up levels in 2012.
There are certainly other outfield prospects lower in the minors with higher ceilings. There are also other outfield prospects who may get a crack later this year. But when you combine talent and opportunity - and remove obvious choices like Myers, Bradley and Hicks -- it seems to me the clear choice for 2013 in the American League is Oswaldo Arcia.