Erisbel Arruebarrena Scouting Report (2014)
The Los Angeles Dodgers have high hopes for Erisbel Arruebarrena. Signed to a five year $25-million deal in February, the former Cuban National Team shortstop follows fellow countryman Yasiel Puig and Alex Guerrero in inking big money deals with L.A. While the Dodgers reap the rewards of Puig in the Majors and Guerrero showcases his offensive skill set in Triple-A, the unknown shortstop struggles to hit .200. With 20-plus games in the States, Should Dodger fans be concerned about Arruebarrena’s struggles?
At 6-foot-0, 200 pounds, Arruebarrena is physically mature. Not a body type prototypical for short, Erisbel is a bigger-bodied shortstop in the mold of an Ian Desmond. He is physically strong with muscular calves and a sturdy base. An impressive athlete, his footwork is more soccer player than baseball player. The Cienfuegos product is quick to either side. Exceptional footwork and instincts allows the rangy shortstop to make difficult chances routine, much like Braves gold glover Andrelton Simmons.
While he lacks Simmons’ powerful arm, a gymnast-like body control lends itself to strong and accurate throws from anywhere on the diamond. The Dodgers knew they had a plus defender when they signed Arruebarrena. The question has been whether he’d hit enough to be a Major League regular.
After reporting to spring training a month late due to visa issues, Erisbel Arruebarrena spent the first two weeks of the season in extended spring training before joining the Chattanooga Lookouts on April 19th. The rust showed. Only a recent hot streak pushed Arruebarrena’s batting average above .140. He looked lost at the plate, gripping and whiffing at air. The rare occasion when he made contact, the ball would die on the infield.
The right-handed hitting shortstop has bat speed galore. Unfortunately, Arruebarrena’s swing is a mess. A pronounced hitch in his load negatively affects his ability to read pitches. This forces him to guess. Adding to his struggles, Arruebarrena locks his pull arm, causing him to lead with the front shoulder when swinging the bat. Instead of short and compact, the back of his swing becomes long and loopy. This leaves Arruebarrena is a shoulder swinger. Shoulder swingers generate power from their upper body, not their base. It also ties up his hands. In batting practice, the Dodgers worked on correcting this issue by having Arruebarrena work on his hips rotating. In game action, the issues continued to persist.
Erisbel Arruebarrena’s wizardry with the glove more than offsets the offensive profile even if the bat fails to develop. As a 23-year-old in Double-A, the Dodgers prospect presents with more risk-versus-reward than the average prospect at the level. Ultimately, the Dodgers can’t teach bat speed or natural athleticism, but can work to revamp his swing. With Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon and Guerrero on payroll, Arruebarrena can be brought along slowly. With the potential for gold glove caliber defense at shortstop, Ramirez leaving via free agency would present an opportunity for the Chattanooga prospect. Realistically, 2015 is the earliest prospect followers and Dodgers fans can expect to him in the show.
TOOL PRESENT FUTURE PROJECTED ROLE DEFENSE FIRST STARTING SHORTSTOP Hitting Ability 20 35 Power 25 35 Speed 55 50 Fielding Ability 70 70 Arm 60 60
Owning Erisbel Arruebarrena
Owing the Cuban shortstop is dicey. Arruebarrena’s glow will earn MLB looks, but the bat is non-existent. And really, how many leagues value the Adeiny Hechavarria‘s and Jose Iglesias‘ of the world? If the Dodgers fix Arruebarrena’s swing, the hit tool and power may play some, but it’s a big if. A rule of thumb is to never sleep on plus bat speed, so a buck for a struggling Erisbel Arruebarrena is a worthwhile low risk investment in dynasty league formats.
23 May 2014 / Chris Blessing / 1
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