The Cardinals have an agreement to sign Randy Arozarena, a top young Cuban prospect who has split time between shortstop and the outfield, for $1.25 million. The agreement was first reported by Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald.
Arozarena, 21, ranked as the No. 9 player on Baseball America’s April 2015 rankings of the top 20 players still in Cuba, standing out for his bat, speed and plate discipline. At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Arozarena is a righthanded hitter with a quick, simple stroke that stays in the hitting zone for a long time. He has a keen eye at the plate, with a line-drive approach and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Arozarena isn’t a big power threat, but he has a chance to grow into 10-15 home runs with his value coming more from his OBP than his power. During his final season (2014-15) in Serie Nacional, Arozarena batted .291/.412/.419 in 74 games with 36 walks, 37 strikeouts and three home runs.
Arozarena is also a plus runner who ranked second in the league in stolen bases, with 15 in 21 tries. He has the quick-twitch athleticism that should allow him to play a premium position, though where he fits best on the field is still a question, in part because he didn’t get to play much at shortstop (his position coming up through the Cuban junior leagues) in deference to his veteran teammates on Pinar Del Rio. Shortstop, second base and center field could all be options for Arozarena, with scouts who have seen him training in Mexico split on where he fits best.
Based on his present ability, Arozarena should be ready for a high Class A assignment, though the Cardinals haven’t said yet where Arozarena will begin his career. Arozarena had been playing this year for the Toritos in the Mexican Northern League, where he hit .377/.466/.555 in 296 plate appearances, leading the league in batting average and stolen bases (42 in 54 attempts).
Arozarena is subject to the international bonus pools, which the Cardinals have already soared past since the 2016-17 signing period opened on July 2. Cuban outfielder Jonatan Machado, Cuban righthander Johan Oviedo, Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia and Dominican outfielder Carlos Soler are among their notable international signings this signing period.
Source: Baseball America