Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE
#5: Randy Arozarena, OF
5’11”, 175 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right
DOB: 28 February 1995; Signed 2016 (Cuba)
Level(s) in 2017: Palm Beach (High A), Springfield (Double A)
Notable Numbers: 8 HR, .196 ISO, 18% K, 134 wRC+ (PB), 13.8% BB, 17.4% K, .366 OBP, 115 wRC+ (Spr)
So, what’s so great about this guy?
When considering Randy Arozarena, I feel there’s an important bit of context I have to get out of the way right up front, so everyone can keep it in mind while you think about his season. Randy Arozarena defected from Cuba at the end of 2014. Due to difficulties establishing residency and going through all the other steps required of Cuban defectors at the time in order to be able to sign with an MLB club, Arozarena sat out all of 2015. He played a short stint in the Mexican League in 2016, signed with the Cardinals late in the year, and was then pushed straight to Palm Beach to begin 2017, his first season playing in the United States. Oh, and also his first full season since 2014. So, you know. No hill for a stepper, as they say, right? (And by they I mean people during the Depression, apparently.)
So keeping that context in mind, that Randy Arozarena defected from Cuba and then barely played organised baseball for close to two years, what he accomplished in his first season stateside is, well, more than a little amazing. He headed straight to the Florida State League, to Roger Dean Stadium, also known as the place where hitting prospects go to die, and he showed surprising power there. Eight home runs in almost 300 trips to the plate may not sound like much, but trust me; in that ballpark, both a ~15 homer per season pace and an ISO of almost .200 are both things to be appreciated.
Arozarena was bumped up to Springfield, and the power seemed to go into hibernation somewhat. Eight homers in 300 FSL at-bats is actually fairly impressive; three homers in 200 Texas League at-bats is not. However, what Arozarena did show in Springfield was another aspect of his game that actually hadn’t really been present in his stay at Palm Beach. While playing in Cuba, Arozarena was known as one of the more disciplined hitters on the island. At Palm Beach, he was extremely aggressive, and I thought perhaps the patience he once seemed to possess just wasn’t going to translate. Then he got to Springfield and started taking walks like a mini Matt Carpenter. Even better, he didn’t see any rise at all in his strikeout rate moving up to Double A. That’s a hell of a thing.
Tools-wise, Arozarena is one of the best athletes in the whole system, with 60-65 speed, a 55-60 glove, an above-average arm, and plus bat speed that actually gives him some intriguing power potential. The plate approach and on-base skills are obviously a huge boon, if he can figure out how to incorporate all the parts of profile together at once. He played some center, but just as much in the corners this year; that’s as much a function of he, Oscar Mercado, and Magneuris Sierra all playing at similar levels during the season as it is Arozarena not being cut out for center, I believe. He’ll probably never be a 25+ homer guy, but, funny thing about that: in the current offensive environment at the major league level, it’s kind of tough to tell what kind of power potential a player coming up from the minors might have. Randy Arozarena hits the ball hard. What that means exactly I don’t know. But he has more pop, certainly, than you would think on first seeing him.
At this point, if I’m being honest, Arozarena is probably my personal favourite prospect in the system. He has legitimate five-tool potential, with the power probably being the one most likely to hold him back. But the things Arozarena does well are some of my favourite things, and I admit I’m smitten.
If he’s good, it will look like: That’s easy, because the player whose all-around game I most think of when Arozarena isn’t far from our minds at the moment. The young Cuban might not have quite as much power, but otherwise he reminds me quite a lot of...Tommy Pham.