Reading through Jacob Swain’s Bowman 1st Hot Sheet, I noticed that Diosbel Arias had his 1st Bowman card this year and it got me thinking. Why isn’t he on many prospect lists?
The Hot Sheet also had Sam Huff‘s 1st Bowman and Sherten Apostel‘s. We all know their names. Huff is ranked 2nd on MLB’s Rangers list and 6th on our Rangers Top 50 Prospects. Apostel is ranked 3rd on MLB and 10th on our list. Yet neither list contains Diosbel Arias.
So we lead on to our Rangers 10 Names You Need To Know, and he just missed out on that one too. But why is he being missed off lists? Is he underrated as a prospect? Is he just caught up in a farm system that contains plenty of bats?
Let’s dive into his minor league career so far and have a look at what people are missing.
Who Is he?
Arias is a 6’2″, 190 lb infielder signed in July 2017 for $900K, and he was signed in the International signing period from Cuba.
The right-handed batter was playing in Cuba’s highest professional league at 16-years-old, before defecting a few years later to join the Rangers.
Minor League Stats
He made his debut in 2017 for DSL Rangers 1 in the Dominican Summer League, making 8 appearances at shortstop. He picked up 2 doubles and had a batting average of .419.
In 2018, he saw a promotion to Spokane Indians in the Northwest League. There he slashed a .366/.451/.491 line with 20 XBH, 44 RBIs, and a K% of just 14.8%. He showed good plate discipline by walking nearly as much as he struck out and scattering his hits around the field.
Last season saw a promotion to Down East Wood Ducks in the Carolina League (A adv). He was expected to continue this development into a higher class and really excel. Although he hit 32 XBH and got 56 RBIs, his batting average dropped and his strikeout rate increased significantly.
These figures don’t tell the full story, and I think that’s where players sometimes get missed.
His numbers dropped and he wasn’t as consistently producing big plays. However, when we look into details such as his spray chart and his batting stance and swing there are key differences.
Above are the spray charts from 2018 and 2019. The 2018 spray chart on the left looks scattered and showed his ability to hit all around the park effectively. The 2019 spray chart on the right, however, shows a shift to focusing more on his pull side to make more XBH down that line.
But why is this now the case?
It could be the difference in pitching quality and using the higher velocity fastballs to make plays down the line, or it could be another reason.
It looks like his stance has adjusted slightly between 2018 and 2019.
The video above shows a BP from 2019. His front foot stays behind his back foot line but bouncing on his toes. When the pitcher starts his wind-up, he shifts that front foot in line and starts his swing. This approach allows him to be slightly more open than what he was like before and allows him to hit down the 3B line with more ease.
However, it does leave him more inclined to top the ball and lead to groundouts. He had a lot of grounded balls within the infield in 2019. It can also lead to him being more open to being struck out. It leaves his body open and reduces his arm extension, so can lead to more strikeouts.
He doesn’t have substantial power, but the way he utilizes his swing and makes solid contact with the ball allows it to barrel off the bat with velocity.
We have spoken about his offensive capabilities but what about defensively?
Renowned for being versatile and slotting into areas when it’s needed, he is solid as a fielder and has the solid arm to make big plays across the diamond.
His weakness would be at 3B though, he had a fielding percentage of .957 when he played there. His other 3 positions (1B, 2B, and SS) had a percentage of .975 plus.
He has quick hands and the ability to make plays on the move. He could be better if he was nailed down to one position to keep some consistency but the Rangers have been known for utilizing players in multiple positions (Nick Solak).
Overall, Arias is an intriguing player. He has improved year on year, although his numbers don’t quite show this. His approach shows more aggressiveness and reliance on pulling the ball more regularly.
If he can continue to develop once the minor leagues resume then that would further increase his stock. However, this would be a key stage in his career as he would be 25 heading into AA so would need to improve dramatically and quickly to show how much of an important player he could be in the Rangers’ system.
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