Prospect #11, OF Randy Arozarena
Age To Start The 2018 Season: 23
Signed Out Of Cuba in 2016
In conjunction with my friend Colin Garner over at The Redbird Daily, we present to you our combined list of the Top 30 Prospects in the Cardinals organization! Every other day for the next two months, From January 28th until March 29th, we will be presenting you with an exhaustive evaluation on each of the top 30 prospects in the organization starting with prospect #30 and counting down to prospect #1. This is our combined list, not our own individual lists. For additional information on how we came these rankings, CLICK HERE. Without further delay, we present...
A+ wRC+: 134 AA wRC+: 115
Kyle Reis (Prospect #12 On Personal List, Prior To Combining Lists With Colin Garner)
Not only do I like nearly everything about Randy Arozarena, I like what he brings so much that I have a terrible man-crush on him. Randy "Arouzalrena" is so damn fun to watch.
As I said to cardinalsgif's via DM just the other day, if I had to pick one of the Cardinals prospects to play running back for a football team it'd be Arozarena. He's a powerful, agile, and smooth-fielding athlete. He possesses an exciting, but yet-to-be genuinely defined power-speed combo that I could very well see maximizing to the 20/20 stage. He's a very solid defensive outfielder, as well. He's fast enough to cover center and he has a strong enough arm for right field, but he's a perfectly above average left fielder and I love the idea of him developing there.
Statistically, Randy's 2017 season can be broken down into four parts. Yes, four parts. First, he got off to a rough start. Over his first 33 games spanning 124 at-bats, the Cuban hit 202/259/306/566 with 2 HR and five doubles while striking out 28 times and only walking five times.
Then, over his next 72 games spanning 263 at-bats and two minor league-levels, Arozarena hit a top-of-the-order-level-dominant 323/393/548/941 with 9 HR and 26 doubles. He also struck out a modest 46 times and walked a stable 23 times.
But Arozarena struggled at the end of the season. Over his last 17 games spanning a small sample of 43 at-bats, Randy slashed 116/309/163/472 with two doubles and 0 HR, while striking out 13 times. He did take 12 walks over this time span which might indicate that he was either told to or decided to work on plate discipline and approach at the plate and veer away from worrying about production. This stuff happens.
Then, there was the Mexican Winter League, where Arozarena RAKED. I'd argue that this was the best that Arozarena has ever played. He wasn't just hitting at an MVP caliber level; he was also playing a "gold-glove" caliber left field. Now, keep in mind that the Mexican Winter League is along the talent lines of Double-A but with players that are around the AAA level and A-levels sprinkled in. It's hard to accurately nail down the talent level and give an accurate description of how that production compares. I do know that in 260 at-bats he hit 14 HR, 25 doubles, and one triple while striking out 61 times and walking 16 times. He did all of this while slashing 292/366/558/923. That looks an awful lot like his midseason stretch in which he raked. I love that.
The other thing about Randy that goes unnoticed is his Jon Jay-esque HBP totals during the 2017 season. What I mean by that is that he stands close to the plate and he isn't afraid to get hit. During the 2017 season, he registered 15 hit by pitches. Then, he added an addition 14 HBP in the Mexican League. That's 29 HBP in 782 plate appearances. At the beginning of his tenure at AA, teams tried their hardest to neutralize him by pitching him inside. When that didn't work, they tried to pitch him outside. That didn't work either, and often the result was something similar to what we saw out of Arozarena in his first spring training at-bat: a ball launched off of the bat.
Now, while I can't think of anything that I don't like about Arozarena, there are just a few areas of concern that will require adjustments and tinkering.
Arozarena has tremendous plate coverage with his swing, as well. But it does get him in trouble. When he's dialed in, his near-perfect right-handed swing is stroking doubles in the gaps, and he's taking the outside pitch to right center field. However, sometimes, especially when he starts to hit a few HR, you'll see him get pull-happy and try to launch-pull that pitch on the outside corner. That gets him in trouble.
One weird thing about Arozarena that might be a coincidence but is worth mentioning is that he struggles at the plate when he isn't playing left field. Personally, I do think that the two are related because it happened in Mexico, too, and wasn't isolated to either Palm Beach or Springfield. That means that at three different leagues during the 2017 calendar league he struggled to hit when he was playing CF or RF. He's a plus defensive left fielder, and the Cardinals would do themselves well to play him there as much as possible. Plus, while he is a serviceable CF, he lacks the ultimate range that you'd want out of CF.
The other thing that I worry about with Randy is that he hasn't had any time off since the last offseason. Going back to spring training of last year, last February, the only break that he's received is a small three-week break between the end of the Mexican Winter League and the start of this year's spring training. He took 864 from April 6th until December 29th. That's a lot of baseball. That's TOO MUCH BASEBALL. If Arozarena doesn't fatigue out by the end of the season, it'd be a miracle.
While he isn't a streaky hitter on the level of JAG (Jose Adolis Garcia), he is streaky. That's why I wanted to break his season into four parts above. He did the same thing in Mexico. He got off to a hot start in the Winter League, but then he fatigued out, and he needed a three-day respite to get his legs back underneath him. He needed to reset. He then raked once he got back into games. It's vital that he gets to rest during the season and it's important to keep in mind that he is streaky.
If I'm comparing Randy Arozarena to anyone, it's a right-handed swinging Gerardo Parra. I buoyed back and forth between Parra and Angel Pagan. Both of those players have had tremendous careers with reasonable HR, BB, SO, and SB numbers. Unless things go wrong, he'll be, at least, a 5-10 year veteran that plays regularly and has supreme value as a 4th outfielder. There is more to his game, though. I believe that the ultimate peak of Arozarena is something similar to Marlon Byrd.
As always, these articles can't be done without Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. They are equally as reliant on the skills of Cardinalsgif's and NChill17. It's a pleasure to do this list with my friend Colin Garner at The Redbird Daily.
Thanks For Reading!