Two of the Twins top position player prospects play for their AA club, the New Britain Rock Cats. Aaron Hicks was rated as the 72nd best prospect in all of baseball at the beginning of the year. Hicks is a switch hitter and was the lead-off hitter when I saw him play online this week. He is big and looks strong, but the center-fielder doesn’t have elite speed. His swing is pretty big but he has good plate coverage, which gives him the ability to make good contact. He was taking some breaking pitches and is a patient looking hitter with good plate discipline (14.3 BB% over the last two years in the minors with a slightly above average strikeout rate).
Oswaldo Arcia is the 3rd best prospect in the system according to Baseball America. He is a corner outfielder (he played right-field when I watched him), so really needs to hit. So far in his career he has done just that. After a short mediocre stint with the GCL team, he tore up Rookie Elizabethton (146 wOBA +). He spent the majority of 2011 destroying class A Beloit (with numbers that make power prospect Miguel Sano, currently in Beloit, look like Tsuyoshi Nishioka). This year, he has split between Fort Myers (A+) and AA and has been very successful. As his numbers would suggest, Arcia is a pretty big guy (210 pounds even at just 6 foot). He has a flat swing with quite a bit of torque in his body. It should give him the power he needs but with the way his head comes out of it, one could see his contact suffering (his K% over the last two years, just south of 21% isn’t alarming). Admittedly, the starting pitcher I saw throw against them (Craig Heyer of the AA Yankees) was old for the level and not very good. The 2nd pitcher was lefty Josh Romanski, who looked pretty good with a nice fastball for a lefty and a much better breaking ball. Arcia had some problems with that breaking ball. This isn’t out of the ordinary when you look at his platoon splits. He stands way back in the batter’s box, which may be in order to see the breaking pitch break a little sooner. When he faced Romanski, he was fooled by the breaking ball early but Romanski kept bouncing it (never going to the fastball) and Arcia eventually walked. His walk percentage is about the same against lefties as righties, but his strikeout rate is a little higher. His OPS is quite a bit lower against lefties as he hits far less fly-balls and far less homers. He has real power against righties though, and sometimes you will see a bit of an uppercut in his swing when the ball is a little low.
Pedro Feliciano is working his way back to the Majors with the Yankees. He lead the Majors in games pitched in each of his last 3 seasons with the Mets (ending in 2010) and was signed by the Yankees for the 2011 season. He has not pitched in the Majors since signing thanks to injuries. He took over for Romanski to pitch the 6th. Feliciano has a definite side arm delivery, which is why he has been a career LOOGY. The fastball looked pretty good (he averaged under 88 MPH when he was healthy, so it isn’t overpowering, he just locates it well and takes advantage of his release point) and he was able to use it to set up his breaking ball, which was excellent looking. He faced Hicks, where he didn’t have the platoon advantage and was able to throw both pitches for strikes to get ahead early in the count. He mainly used the breaking pitch against Hicks, and Hicks did a very good job of laying off the pitches and walked. It looked like Feliciano had two different off-speed pitches, a slider and a changeup (which matched what Pitch F/X said about him before the injuries). He threw a two or 3 pitches that got away from the catcher as his off-speed command wasn’t very consistent in location (but looked very good as far as movement goes). His fastball command was excellent though and he mainly through it high in the zone and away from lefties. When he faced Arcia, he got inside on him and made him weakly fly-out to shallow left field. Feliciano could be another good lefty in the pen for the Yankees, meaning Clay Rapada shouldn’t have to face a righty the whole month. (Jon Meloan later pitched, and he really struggled with his command, especially with his off-speed stuff).
Arcia moves pretty quick out in the field. He should have plenty of range and ability to be an average to above average outfielder (I actually lean towards the latter). The Twins main problem this year has been pitching. Their rotation has been in tatters, but they could use some offensive (and defensive) help as well. Hicks and Arcia could be a part of the Twins outfield for years to come.