I once compared Randal Grichuk to a roller coaster at Six Flags. Well, the newly promoted Randy Arozarena makes the former Cardinal outfielder look like the "Mine Train."
This kid, a living breathing version of "The Boss," has excitement written all over him. Too much? Possibly, but the wrapping paper is still on, so please hold all judgement.
Arozarena, 24 years old and a left fielder for the Memphis Redbirds, was called up this afternoon in lieu of the Jose Martinez injured list placement. Right in time for a matchup with the lowly Kansas City Royals to test out his skills, one can only hope Arozarena finds his way into the lineup.
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Let's hope he doesn't suffer a similar fate as his former Memphis teammate, Lane Thomas. Sunday's hero at the plate had to endure 11 days on the bench before blasting his way into the clear view of Mike Shildt on Sunday. There's too much talent on the 40 man roster now to give Tommy Edman another start in the outfield that isn't some backlot practice contest.
Arozarena, the number 12 prospect in the organization, brings speed, hustle and a versatile array of offensive talents to the table.
He slugged with Palm Beach in 2017 and Springfield in 2018 before struggling last season in Memphis, where he slashed .232/.328/.348 in 89 games. 2019, thankfully, was a different story.
After a brief stint in Springfield, Arozarena has put a slash line of .349/.435/.562 with the Redbirds at Triple-A. I'm talking about 16 doubles and seven home runs, with 74 hits and eight stolen bases.
According to MLB.com prospect watch, he's an above average runner who can play all three outfield spots, but has the arm strength for right field. While scouts note he makes consistent contact, the quality left something to be desired before this season. Keep that in mind, this was before the 2019 season started.
Kyle Reis, minor league expert for Birds on the Black, had this to say about Arozarena in his Dirty Thirty-Five Prospect rankings this past spring: "He possesses all "five tools" that you look for out of an outfielder. All of those five tools aren't "loud" per se, but they are present. He's fast. He's a rangy outfielder with a plus arm." Reis, who has been watching the kid for a long time, had this to say about his power potential. "He has a good approach with 10-20 home run pop. In my mind, I've always thought of him as a "junior-five-tool" player."
Arozarena is the kind of player who lights a fire under a team.
There was a play shared on social media where he literally turned a botched infield pop-up into a triple. He has power, can play the field, and will use his speed. There's some reckless abandon in his approach, but that will blend well with a Cardinals team that likes to run the bases and use their speed to cut down gaps in the outfield. While Thomas has a more defined set of skills, Arozarena brings more show to the boat.
They should both play this week, with Marcell Ozuna/Dexter Fowler taking the left field and designated hitter roles. If you are going to call Arozarena up, he must play. If not, you are wasting his talents on the bench while lesser players try to resemble who they used to be.
Run with Fowler, Thomas, and Arozarena with Ozuna at the DH in Kansas City, and then get Ozuna in for Fowler with the three spots shifting slightly this weekend in Cincinnati and next week against Milwaukee and Colorado. Mix and match, but don't isolate the future.
Mike Shildt has a bold new player on his hands, so he should recall his August 2018 self and be bold again.
You never know, the Cardinals may just win some games in the process.