Why Couldn't The Brewers Tap Into Orlando Arcia's All Star Potential?

Brewers player development seemingly failed Orlando Arcia

Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Orlando Arcia is finally an All Star. Not just any All Star, he's the starting shortstop for the NL in the 2023 All Star Game. He's earned it. With the Atlanta Braves this year, Arcia has put up incredible numbers. It begs the question though, why couldn't he do this with the Brewers?

Given the circumstances at the time, it's understandable why the Brewers traded away Orlando Arcia. He had been struggling to figure things out at the plate for several years. It just wasn't coming together, and Luis Urias seemed primed to take over the starting shortstop job going forward. A week into the 2021 season, they traded Arcia to the Braves for a couple of relievers.

Now, two years later, Orlando Arcia was just voted an All Star starter and Luis Urias was just optioned to Triple-A.

This talent was in Orlando Arcia all along. He was ranked the 6th overall prospect in baseball in 2016 and had superstar potential seemingly written all over him. While the excellent defense was certainly a large part of his profile, there was plenty to dream on with the bat. The makings of an above-average hit tool and some decent power.

It never came together for him though, despite demotions and plenty of chances to swing his way out of a seemingly never-ending slump. The Brewers were left with no choice but to move on.

Then, as soon as Arcia gets to the Braves organization, they put together a powerpoint presentation for him and gave him a short list of things they wanted him to change with his swing. The Braves knew why he wasn't finding success and had answers to fix him. Next thing you know, he's an All Star.

Why didn't the Brewers have these answers? They knew Arcia for over a decade. They signed him as an international free agent in 2010, they developed him, they had him in the big leagues for five years. The Brewers knew him better than anyone, they practically helped raise him from a 16 year old kid to a grown adult and professional. But they didn't have the answer needed to help him reach his full potential.

Numerous coaches throughout the years, a change in the front office, and no one was able to see what the flaws in Arcia's swing were and had a way to fix them. They thought he was broken and a lost cause offensively, As it turns out, it's not that Arcia can't hit, it's that the Brewers didn't know how to get him to hit.

This should cause some serious reflection inside the Brewers front office. What did they overlook? How did they fail in developing Arcia? The better they understand where they went wrong with him, the more likely they can avoid this same situation happening again, where they give up on a player who becomes an All Star elsewhere. They invested so much in developing Arcia and got nothing for it. The Braves put together a powerpoint and got an All Star for two relievers who did nothing for Milwaukee.

We may be seeing history repeat itself soon. Keston Hiura was another hitting prodigy the Brewers were excited about that has inexplicably lost his ability to hit. After years of struggles, the Brewers finally designated him for assignment. He doesn't bring any defensive value, unlike Arcia, so no team picked him up and he's still in the organization. Even if Hiura gets called back up, will the Brewers ever be able to get his full offensive potential out of him?

Will it take Hiura finally getting a change of scenery with a different organization that will unleash his offensive prowess? It might.

Arcia improving as soon as he leaves the Brewers organization may just be a one-off situation where things just went wrong and it's nobody's fault in particular. If the same thing happens with Hiura, the Brewers will have to answer some serious questions about their ability to develop hitting.

If they were smart, and there are a lot of smart people in the Brewers front office, they'd be asking themselves those questions already.

After all, the Brewers haven't drafted and developed an All Star position player since... Jonathan Lucroy. They're going to be relying on a lot of young hitters this year and going forward. Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer, Brice Turang, Sal Frelick, and especially Jackson Chourio are all slated to be key pieces of the offense. They all have pedigrees similar to what Arcia had coming up. Will the Brewers get the full potential out of these young players? If they struggle, can the Brewers fix them?

We may never truly know why the Brewers couldn't figure out how to help Orlando Arcia reach his full potential. Whatever it is, the Braves were able to figure it out and the Brewers should be taking notes on what the Braves did with him if they haven't already.

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