Randy Arozarena Shows Verve At Triple-A
The Cardinals had a pack of scouting reports on outfielder Randy Arozarena from his days with the Cuban national team, but what international director Moises Rodriguez saw next wasn’t in them.
After leaving Cuba, Arozarena established residency in Mexico and played in the Mexican League briefly in 2016 before signing with the Cardinals that August.
Rodriguez, who is now the Cardinals’ assistant general manager, had traveled to Mexico to scout—and possibly sign—Arozarena, who at the time played second base.
That’s when Rodriguez saw Arozarena peeling around the outfield. Loosed from the confines of the infield, Arozarena's speed excelled, his arm played up, and his game had verve.
"Who else is seeing this?” Rodriguez recalled thinking.
The answer now: Everyone.
Arozarena has raced to the brink of the majors as one of the most productive and vibrant outfielders at Triple-A The 24-year-old outfielder won the club’s player of the month award for June with a .374 average, five home runs, 20 RBIs, and two four-hit games.
Then Arozarena got better in July. The righthanded-hitting leadoff hitter finished the month with 16 hits in 42 at-bats from July 18-28, and he had six multi-hit games in that span with 13 runs scored.
Overall, he had hit .367/.439/.572 through his first 42 games with the Redbirds, and 21 of his 61 hits in that stretch had gone for extra bases.
His surge comes at a time when the Cardinals have searched for better production from their leadoff position, but three things have worked against him: He’s not on the 40-man roster yet, the Cardinals were reluctant to add him around the trade deadline when a spot could be needed for a newcomer, and the Cardinals have a thicket of center fielders in the majors.
As it was in Mexico when Rodriguez saw him, Arozarena’s speed sets him apart, but he also had hit at every level.
A strong spring put Arozarena in mind with the big league staff, and the team has long viewed him as a fourth or fifth outfielder in the majors. Now they’re seeing even more.
— In order to help center fielder Harrison Bader find his swing, the Cardinals optioned him to Triple-A Memphis in late July. Bader, an elite defensive player and former top prospect, had plunged into a two-month slump, and playing time was fleeting in the majors.
— First-round lefthander Zack Thompson, a Kentucky product taken 19th overall, was getting regular, scripted work for high Class A Palm Beach as the Cardinals manage his workload this season. He had struck out 10 in his first 6.1 innings at the level.