Because one Cuban shortstop was not enough, the Los Angeles Dodgers have just added another, agreeing to a deal with 24 year old Erisbel Arruebarruena, according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick
Although a bel0w-average runner, Arruebarruena has been praised by scouts for his elite glove. In a report on the Cuban shortstop last november, Baseball America’s Ben Badler referred to him as a “defensive wizard,” praising his instincts, range, arm strength and accuracy, and general awareness in the field, which combine to give him gold glove potential.
Unlike the Dodgers’ other Cuban middle infield signee, Alexander Guerrero, however, Arruebarruena is a major question mark at the plate. His performance in the Cuban Series Nacional was more than respectable – .320/.367/.520 line for the 2011-2012 season – but stats from that league are poor indicators of a batter’s ability to hit in the majors. In that same report, Badler decried the 23 year old’s poor pitch recognition, inability to hit a breaking ball, lack of power, and pull-heavy approach. He relayed that several scouts doubted Arruebarruena could hit more than .220 or a post an OBP above .300 at the major league level.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed yet, but the monetary value will not contribute to the Dodger’s international spending cap. The 24 year old has played six seasons in Cuba’s Series Nacional, rendering him free of the restrictions imposed by the most recent collective bargaining agreement.
Arruebarruena is less developed than either Guerrero or Yasiel Puig, whom Los Angeles signed last offseason. Badler projected him to start 2014 in Double-A, a sensible move considering his offensive shortcomings.
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