This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have #11, Randy Arozarena.
11. Randy Arozarena – OF
Signed on August 1, 2016
Entering age-23 season
A+ wRC+: 134, AA wRC+: 115
|2017||22||-1.3||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||STL||121||490||428||72||114||32||4||11||49||18||7||40||87||.266||.346||.437||.783||187||11||15||2||5||0|
What I Like
Randy Arozarena absolutely dominated the Florida State League in his first season stateside. I don’t think the significance of that can be overstated. While adjusting to the cultural difference all foreign players experience, Arozarena mashed in the toughest hitting environment professional baseball has to offer. He did it with average (.275), slugging (.472 SLG%, 8 HR’s), and speed (10 stolen bases). Without a doubt, he was the most exciting player on the Palm Beach roster in the first half.
On June 30th, right about the time I really locked in on the minor leagues, Arozarena was promoted to Springfield, where I’d be able to see him play several times. The first thing that caught my eye was the “infield triple” (it was ruled a three-base error) that went semi-viral.
It’s definitely a flukey play, but I think it says a lot about the type of player Arozarena is. After popping the ball up, he didn’t pout. He busted it out of the box even though it’s a play that is made 99.99% of the time, was on second when the ball dropped, and alertly took third because nobody was there. A fluke? Sure. Indicative? You bet.
Arozarena’s athleticism is absolutely off the charts, and it’s on display in left field.
His slugging really dropped in Springfield, but like JAG in Memphis, Arozarena was trying to find himself as a hitter. His BB% jumped from 4.4% in Palm Beach to 13.8% in Springfield, and that’s in a 195 plate appearance sample size at Double-A. While I definitely don’t think a BB% that high is sustainable, it’s great to see that he can be patient when he needs to, because the physical skills are remarkable.
What I Don’t Like
There were times when Arozarena looked frustrated and overmatched against some of the more advanced Double-A pitchers. When Springfield faced Franklin Perez (the #35 overall prospect according to Baseball America), Perez didn’t throw his curveball in the first five innings in order to work on his fastball command. In doing so, he became much more hittable than his pedigree suggests. Then, in the 6th, he broke off a nasty 12-6 curve to Arozarena, the first of the game, and you could already see the at-bat was over. Arozarena’s body language showed that he lost the at-bat then and there, simply because he couldn’t eliminate Perez’s best pitch. Arozarena will see advanced stuff than Perez’s in Triple-A and the majors, so he’ll have to adjust.
The anecdote above is indicative of what I’d like to see from Arozarena in 2018: a more even-keeled approach. His frustration showed at times, causing to swing for the fences and get himself out. When you think about it, the potential is downright scary. Arozarena had a tremendous 2017, even with a substandard approach at times. If he locks in on his approach on a day-to-day basis and doesn’t let minor slumps affect him, Arozarena could be cracking Top 100 lists by this time next year.
Thanks for reading! As always thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for their statistics databases. Be sure to check out Kyle’s post tomorrow at Birds On The Black, and listen to Prospect To Be Named Later for even more minor league content.