With the acquisitions of Yasiel Puig in 2012 and Alex Guerrero in 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers established themselves as major players in the Cuban market. Still, it was a big surprise when the team inked Erisbel Arruebarrena to a 5 year, $25 million contract in February.
At the time, the report on Arruebarrena was he had a top of the line glove with plenty of work to do at the plate. Through 16 games, Arruebarrena is batting just .136 but playing impressive defense. J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News Group recently spoke with a scout who gave his opinion of the 24-year-old shortstop:
I’d say Erisbel’s current offensive numbers are an accurate representation of his abilities – he has a long/loopy swing, almost like a golf swing that struggles to make contact with any type of pitch. He has serious recognition problems vs. AA-effective secondary stuff, turning his back early & often vs. almost all curveballs/sliders.
The organization knew they weren’t getting another Hanley Ramirez when they signed the Cuban defector, though Arruebarrena’s struggles in Double-A have been worse than expected. His OPS is .408 and he has just four extra-base hits and three walks compared to 24 strikeouts.
There were definite mechanical issues with Arruebarren’as swing when he signed, mainly the fact that he doesn’t incorporate the lower half of his body, but the pitch recognition issues are more concerning. That would suggest Arruebarrena needs more time in the minors to figure things out at the plate.
However, it’s not all bad news for the Dodger prospect. The scout lauded Arruebarrena for his glove and praised his defense:
That said, him at SS is sometimes awesome to watch; way above instincts, really easy/super-quick receive-and-throw actions deep in the hole or going up the middle with a really good feel to complete very tough plays…I see him as a mid-.500s OPS guy but with major league top-5 shortstop defense.
While he may be relegated to a No. 8 hitter in the lineup, Arruebarrena’s glove should make him a valuable addition to a Major League roster. While he may not be another Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves, his defense would justify a spot on a 25-man roster. Arruebarrena is not likely to displace Ramirez anytime soon, but he could evolve into another option at shortstop in the future.
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