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Article: Luis Arráez: Hitting Machine

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#1 Mariana Guzman

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 09:48 AM

Luis Arráez, the guy that knows how to hit a baseball.

He is just 22 years old but already made his MLB debut more than a month ago, when the Twins first called him from AAA. He could be just a regular Venezuelan guy who loves Latin music, loves to sleep, and a good plate of pasta and meatballs but his incredible talent playing baseball, particularly hitting the ball, has put all eyes on him.His love for baseball started when he was three years old, and by that time the diamond was at his house, his backyard in his native Venezuela.

"I remember that it was a big backyard and that was where my neighbor, my nephew and I played every day during my childhood," Arráez said.

Luis's dad was responsible for his first steps in baseball. “My dad always told me to bat right-handed, but I did the opposite," Arráez said.

Arráez has been capable of hitting the ball at all of the levels where he has played, but better than that is the fact that it is fun to watch him play. Yes, maybe because he has the Caribbean flavor in his veins, or maybe because he really enjoys playing, no matter the reason. The thing here is that Arráez makes this game more fun to watch.

Luis decided to take baseball as a "serious business" when he was just a kid.

"I was barely eight years old when I started playing Little League, and then after that I went to Baseball Championship in Cumana, Venezuela," Arráez said. "When I was nine years old I traveled for the very first time to represent Venezuela in a Little League championship in Cuba".

That trip to Cuba marked a before-and-after in Arráez's sporting life and allowed him to gain even more strength and confidence.

“Arráez has always been a good hitter. Luis has always had the same swing, the same desire to play. He is a hitting machine,” said Franklin Perez, one of the Detroit Tigers' top prospects and Arráez's childhood friend.

Pérez was with Arráez in 2007 when they represented Venezuela in a tournament. The South American country was the undefeated champion of that tournament, and although more than 12 years have passed, the friendship between Pérez and Arráez endures: "Arráez is a very humble person. He has a good heart, one of the best teammates I've ever had in baseball."

Franklin and Luis have never been on the same team in professional baseball, but they always keep in touch and have had the opportunity to face each other in Class A, “It was a tremendous experience to face him. He gave me a lot of battles. He is a very good hitter, and it is very difficult to strike him out because he makes very good contact."

Arráez's career as a professional began when he signed with Navegates del Magallanes at the age of 15. "I signed with Magallanes when I was 15 years old. After a National Championship, Ismael Ochoa took me to the Félix Olivo's Academy, and then I got the contract with Magallanes.”.

The process of signing with a US team was quite complicated for Arráez, who confessed he was about to give up, "I signed in November, 2014. It was somewhat difficult. I spent two months in the city of Bejuma (former headquarters of the Twins in Venezuela), and after that they told me there was no money for me."

But although the situation was not the best, life smiled at the young Venezuelan ... "When I arrived at my house, I found José León (Twins scout) who asked me to sign."

The rest is history. Arráez made the jump to the professional level in the Dominican Summer League in 2013. About the challenges in his first pro years, Arráez said "It was quite easy for me to move to the Dominican Republic. I was mentally and physically ready for that".

And that was true, because in his first year he had an average of .348 in 31 games. That performance in the DSL helped him to get to the US in his second year as a professional.

He spent the 2015 season at the Gulf Coast League where he hit .309 in 57 games. In 2016, he had one of the most spectacular seasons. He played with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, and won the Midwest League batting title with an impressive .347 average in 114 games.

In 2017, a knee injury took him out of action for a year. The Venezuelan had to undergo surgery and go through a tedious recovery process. Fortunately, he returned in 2018 when he hit .310 with the Fort Myers Miracle before being promoted to AA. He ended the 2018 season batting .310 between Class-A Ft. Myers and Double-A Chattanooga.

His lack of power is perhaps what has kept him away from a better position in the rankings of Twins prospects (currently #17), but it is more than obvious that it doesn't affect him at all. He has found the best way to respond with extraordinary contact and plate discipline during all his years as a professional. For that reason, Minnesota decided to reward him by including him on the 40-man roster at the end of November, 2018.

His defensive skills are good enough to keep him on the Twins roster. Although in the minor leagues he has played mostly as a second baseman, he likes the idea of playing in different positions. "I like to play second base because it is easier,“ said Arráez with a smile,"but it does not bother me to play as a shortstop, I also like to play third base.”

Being open to playing several positions could be key for his career.

Offensively, Luis' talent is undeniable. When it comes to hitting, he says there is no great secret behind his success, just a lot of work and dedication, "I always arrive early at the stadium to work on my swing. I love to do the tee drills, and most of the time, I do three rounds. I also work with the hitting coach on a flip drill section. That’s something that helps me a lot, and it makes my hands faster. I do it by putting some weight on the bat, and then I start doing my regular swing. That's what I always do to prepare before each game."

A star that also shines in Venezuela

Luis' success in baseball is not only summarized by his spectacular performances in the minor leagues. Arráez has been able to respond to the confidence of the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuela Winter League. With Magallanes, Arraez is a kind of a superstar. In three seasons with Magallanes (one of the teams with the longest traditions in Venezuela), Arráez has an average of .324 with 116 hits, 44 R, and 32 RBI's. Luis finished in second place on the ballot for the Rookie of the Year Award (2015-2016) with 198 points.

Arráez in the Majors...

Arráez has played 15 games with the Twins, and he has an impressive average of .436 in 39 at-bats. While it is true that Rocco Baldelli and the Twins front office called Arráez up after the injury of Ehire Adrianza, it is also true that Luis is putting up incredible numbers in an attempt to stay on the big team roster. For now, we don't know what decision the Twins brass will make regarding Luis, but for sure, all the fans in Twins Territory will continue supporting Arráez on his wonderful journey.


Follow Mariana Guzman on Twitter, along with her second Twitter account, Twins Latinos.

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#2 jimbo92107

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 10:40 AM

Try as I might, I just can't find myself objecting to having a guy that hits like Tony Gwynn on the Twins roster. I like Schoop, but sometimes it's better to have a guy that's on base all the time batting ahead of your power hitters. I could see Luis Arraez leading off for the next decade, while playing perfectly good second base. He will score and drive in tons of runs. 

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#3 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 10:44 AM

Anyone seen or been able to come up with a comp for Arraez?

 

Someone that just popped into my head - former Twin...Luis Castillo...?

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#4 Trov

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:28 AM

 

Anyone seen or been able to come up with a comp for Arraez?

 

Someone that just popped into my head - former Twin...Luis Castillo...?

A comp I was thinking of, not in style but story, is Jose Altuve.Both from Venezuela Arraez is a few inches taller but still considered shorter.Neither had much power young in career, both play 2nd base so prospect ranking lower.However, both hit a ton in minors for average and hit well when came up to majors at similar age.If he can have similar career path the Twins will love that.Altuve did not start hitting many HR until he was 26 and he plays half his games in a park known for HR.  

 

I do love watching the kid swing, he seems to always hit ball hard where ever it is pitched.  

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#5 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:30 AM

There’s absolutely no way he’s not our starting 2B next year.
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#6 Jham

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:49 AM

League will adjust. He'll have to adjust back. that slap to left will get taken away and he'll have to pull with power more. his plate coverage suggests he'll adjust, but we said that about Mauer. still gotta do it.
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#7 jz7233

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 12:01 PM

 

There’s absolutely no way he’s not our starting 2B next year.

Why is that?


#8 Shaitan

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 12:10 PM

 

There’s absolutely no way he’s not our starting 2B next year.

I hope Gordon gives him a run for it. Competition is always good at the MLB level.

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#9 Dantes929

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 12:34 PM

 

League will adjust. He'll have to adjust back. that slap to left will get taken away and he'll have to pull with power more. his plate coverage suggests he'll adjust, but we said that about Mauer. still gotta do it.

However he does it I would accept a .360+ OBP.I would also like a high OBP guy to lead off. I had hoped that guy would be Buxton but would be fine if it were Arraez.I agree though that pitchers will adjust and we will see his numbers normalize. Not ready to put him in Mauer or Gwynn category. Right now I think his comp is Ben Revere though I hope it is Ben Revere 2.0 (new and improved)

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#10 rdehring

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 12:51 PM

Thanks for a great article Mariana.Almost sounds like you have some first hand information, do you?

 

I have been a huge fan of Arraez for several years.As I have stated elsewhere over the past few days, believe he can have a special career.However, won't be surprised if he gets sent back to Rochester for a few weeks when all the guys come off the IL over the next days/weeks. 

 

 


#11 jkcarew

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 01:18 PM

 

A comp I was thinking of, not in style but story, is Jose Altuve.Both from Venezuela Arraez is a few inches taller but still considered shorter.Neither had much power young in career, both play 2nd base so prospect ranking lower.However, both hit a ton in minors for average and hit well when came up to majors at similar age.If he can have similar career path the Twins will love that.Altuve did not start hitting many HR until he was 26 and he plays half his games in a park known for HR.  

 

I do love watching the kid swing, he seems to always hit ball hard where ever it is pitched.  

Altuve actually showed considerably more power (and speed) in the minors than has Arraez. (30 HR to 6, both in about 1600 PA). And with the current stance/swing/approach that Arraez employs, I don't think significant power is in the offing.

 

Arraez is a difficult comp...he's low SLG, high OBP (relative to other good/very good hitters). And the OBP will come from a high BA...more so than a ridiculously high BB rate. When you find a guy like this in history, he tends to have a speed profile...but that's not Arraez, either.

 

Offensively, maybe Arraez's ceiling would feel a bit like Wade Boggs floor? (Emphasis on ceiling vs floor here :)). 1990 Boggs was 302/386/418 with 6 HR and negligible SB. Mix in a few more base hits and a few less walks....and also playing a more valuable defensive position.


#12 mickeymental

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 01:55 PM

maybe a modern-day cesar tovar?

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#13 Monticore

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 02:02 PM

Schoop has been good, but Arreaz might be better in the long run.
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#14 Minfidel

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 02:58 PM

 

Anyone seen or been able to come up with a comp for Arraez?

 

Someone that just popped into my head - former Twin...Luis Castillo...?

He has the barrel chest like Castillo. We'll have to see if he has the game defensively to stick. Otherwise, he kind of reminds me (not physically) of Jose Oquendo. 

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#15 Dantes929

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 03:26 PM

 

 r.

 

Offensively, maybe Arraez's ceiling would feel a bit like Wade Boggs floor? (Emphasis on ceiling vs floor here :)). 1990 Boggs was 302/386/418 with 6 HR and negligible SB. Mix in a few more base hits and a few less walks....and also playing a more valuable defensive position.

Give me that stat line for both Buxton and Arraez and I would write them in with ink at #1 and 2 for the next 6 years.

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#16 dbminn

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 03:29 PM

Thanks for the article, Mariana! 

 

Cesar Tovar is a really good comp.

 

You could add Tony Gwynn as far as style of hitter. Not saying Arraez is anywhere near the next Gwynn but his pitch selection and bat control remind me of him.

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#17 gman

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 06:38 PM

Hit em where they ain't. Arraez is a great compliment to the homerun/ strikeout type hitters throughout the Twins lineup. He could score a bunch of runs on this team.Opponents have already stop trying to shift on him and he still hits it through them.

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#18 drivlikejehu

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 09:44 PM

Arraez is pretty unusual. The best comps I could find over the past 10-15 years are Marco Scutaro, Jamey Carroll, and Placido Polanco, all infielders with good plate discipline, high contact rates, but so-so speed and power. Polanco was a great defender, which made him very valuable (though underappreciated at the time). 

 

Arraez' statcast numbers so far are interesting . . . his exit velocity and launch angle are pretty solid for a contact-oriented hitter. He's hit a lot of balls 'pretty well' but hasn't really crushed many. I think he has more raw power than Scutaro and Carroll did, not sure about Polanco. Arraez has always had very high BABIP numbers in the minors, which isn't a very reliable data point but is at least noteworthy.

 

Overall, I'm not sure what to make of him. The fact he's 22 and 2 months is definitely a major plus, because there's reason to think he can learn to translate more of his raw power into his hitting approach. He's a no-doubt Big Leaguer, it's just a question of how likely he is to be a utility/journeyman sort as opposed to a solid starter. Maybe it's 50/50.

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#19 MNT1996

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 09:50 PM

 

I hope Gordon gives him a run for it. Competition is always good at the MLB level.

 

I'd bet a lot of money on Gordon being a key trade chip for the deadline


#20 jz7233

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 11:12 PM

 

Schoop has been good, but Arreaz might be better in the long run.

Schoop has not been good at all. Arraez is the real deal.




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