Raising Arozarena

Daniel Port covers all of Sunday's most interesting hitters.

Last year the Rays made a trade that was somewhat puzzling at the time, moving big-name prospect Matthew Liberatore plus a few other pieces for José Martínez and an unknown outfielder out of Cuba named Randy Arozarena. Half a season later, it’s starting to look like Arozarena may end up being the highlight of that trade as he hit two home runs Sunday (3-6, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI), giving him three in his first six games this season. Since being called up on August 30th, he has gotten off to a hot start hitting .364 with a 1.136 OPS. In an effort to get out ahead of the waiver wire, let’s take a look at what kind of hitter Arozarena has been and see what we might be able to expect from him from here on out.

Arozarena was signed out of Cuba as an international free agent by the Cardinals in 2016. He mostly looked like a toolsy project that might hit for okay average and steal double-digit bases but that was it. Then in 2018, he took off at AA, hitting .396 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases in just 24 games, which earned him a quick promotion to AAA—where unfortunately he struggled, hitting .232 over 89 games. However, he did manage to hit five more home runs and steal 17 more bases bringing his totals to 12 HRs and 26 SBs.

Thanks to his struggles, Arozarena started 2019 back at AA but quickly proved that he was once again ready for AAA by hitting .309 with three HRs and eight SBs over 28 games. He got called back up to AAA and this time he delivered, hitting .358 with 12 HRs and 9 SBs over 64 games. Now fully cooking, he got the call up to the big leagues, hitting .300 over 19 games with a homer and two stolen bases. Across three levels and 111 games that gave him 16 HRs and 19 SBs for the year.

So that gives you a pretty good idea what we could potentially expect from Arozarena at the major league level for a full season. My estimates would be something along the lines of between a .280 and .300 average with double-digit home runs and 15 + SBs with his ceiling being something like young Tommy Pham without the walks. In terms of the rest of this year? So far he isn’t playing every day quite yet (it’s the Rays so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised) but he’s been playing most days since being called up from the alternate site and when he does play he’s hitting second in the Rays lineup, for a team that is seventh in the league in runs scored. That still holds value, especially in daily leagues or if you need runs. It’s also worth noting that his biggest competition (Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot in the outfield, Yoshi Tsutsugo at DH) have struggled mightily so it might not be that difficult to win a full-time job out there. He’s barely rostered right now and if he gets to play in even every five of seven games or so, he could be a really valuable addition to your teams.

Donovan Solano (2B/3B/SS, SF) – 3-3, HR, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB. Donovan Solano continues his fantastic 2020 season with his third home run yesterday to go along with a double and a walk. He’s hitting .328 on the season and hasn’t found a set home in the Giants lineup yet, but he’s tied for third in doubles in the NL and has 25 RBI and 17 Runs on the season, making him a fantastic pickup in points leagues.

Kyle Seager (3B, SEA) – 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. With his sixth home run on Sunday, Kyle Seager’s comeback season for the ages continued with style. Hitting .275 while batting cleanup for the Mariners he’s amassed 26 RBI and has posted the highest walk rate and lowest strikeout rate of his entire career. His plate discipline numbers show an improving selectivity and his approach numbers show an increased tendency to use the larger parts of the field, all of which could help explain his remarkable return to form.

Pete Alonso (1B, NYM) – 3-5, 2 HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. It hasn’t quite been the season that Pete Alonso believers were hoping for but four home runs in his last four games has restored many a folks’ faith in the Polar Bear. I’d like to see him string together a couple of multi-hit games before I’m fully back in on him but this is certainly an encouraging sign.

Corey Seager (SS, LAD) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. This is the Corey Seager we’ve been waiting years for. Finally, we are seeing the elite power (11 HRs!) and elite average (.326!) combination that we’ve expected from him thanks to a huge jump in his barrel rate and exit velocity. It will be fascinating to see where he ends up getting drafted next season but this year shows he belongs amongst the elite at the deepest position in fantasy baseball.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, ATL) – 3-5, HR, 2B, R, 4 RBI. Speaking of players improving their draft stock, Marcell Ozuna continues to absolutely crush the ball as this gives him 13 home runs on the year to go along with a .310 AVG and 10 doubles. Add in a career-high walk rate and you have to wonder if this year might be proof that Ozuna’s 2017 breakout is the real deal.

Dominic Smith (1B/OF, NYM) – 4-5, 3 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. There’s seemingly no stopping Dominic Smith this season. His three doubles on Sunday gives him 15 on the season and at least a share of the major-league lead. The wild thing is he’s still available in some leagues out there. If he’s out there in one of your leagues you should rectify that situation, tout suite.

Willi Castro (3B/SS, DET) – 2-8, HR, R, 3 RBI. Much has been written in this feature about how there’s a lot of value to be had in the Tigers lineup and Willi Castro is part of that value. He just keeps hitting, as he has 15 hits in his last 10 games. I suspect that much of his .345 AVG is unstainable as one can only walk 1.7% of the time for so long and have any real long-term success, but for now, it might be worth riding the hot streak if you need it.

Kevin Plawecki (C, BOS) – 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI. This was Plawecki’s first homer of the season but he’s been really good this season when he steps in for Christian Vázquez. He doesn’t play often enough to be useful in your counting stats, but if you take more of a quality over quantity approach to your catchers he might have some value, similar to a Kurt Suzuki of years past.

DJ Stewart (OF, BAL) – 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. This is DJ’s third home run in two days but unfortunately, there’s not much else there to get excited about as those homers are his only three hits on the season out of 31 plate appearances.

Rowdy Tellez (1B/DH, TOR) – 3-6, HR, 2 R, RBI. It’s flown a bit under the radar for one reason or another, but Tellez has been really good so far this season, hitting .295 with eight HRs. While at first you might be concerned about his drop in launch angle and barrel rate, he’s top-tier in most other Statcast numbers and I love how tightly grouped his launch angle chart from Baseball Savant is:

Brandon Nimmo (OF, NYM) – 3-6, HR, 2 R, RBI. Brandon Nimmo might be turning a corner as this gives him seven hits and six runs scored in his last five games. We know he’s an on-base machine but he’s now up to six HRs on the season. He’s solidly locked in as the leadoff hitter for the Mets so if he can even hit closer to .265 or .270 then he could be a valuable addition to your roster, especially in points or OBP leagues—plus, he’s pretty widely available.

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Daniel Port

Daniel is a Fantasy Baseball writer, Brewer, and Theatrical Technician, located in Denver, Colorado. A lifelong fan of baseball and the Cleveland Indians since before Albert Belle tried to murder Fernando Vina, he used to tell his Mom he loved her using Sammy Sosa's home run salute, has a perfectly reasonable amount of love for Joey Votto and believes everything in life should be announced using bat flips. If you want to talk baseball, beer, or really anything at all you can find him on twitter at @DanielJPort !

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