On Monday, during the Dodgers town hall with select season ticket holders, Stan Kasten let it be known that the Dodgers would have a new player in camp soon. Per Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider:
“We have 59 players in camp. There’s going to be one more coming. Nothing I can say about that just yet. I’ll let the media go crazy with that.”And, crazy they went. Folks immediately threw every name in the world into a hat. First, there was recently released Royals infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Then, highly touted Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz's name was thrown about. Needless to say, those prognostications were all wrong.
The man who is coming to the Dodgers Major League camp is recent Cuaban defector and good-glove infielder Erisbel Arruebarruena. Per Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, he and the Dodgers have reached an preliminary agreement.
The club has not confirmed the signing.How exactly do you pronounce his last name? I do not know. Heck, my Filipino/Asian tongue could never come close to pronouncing those "r's" with any kind of grace. So, I won't even try.
Sources said there still are physical exams and possible legal and immigration issues to resolve.
Enrique Rojas at ESPN was the first reporter to break the news. He tells us that Erisbel recently traveled from Haiti to America for a physical. Arruebarruena is regarded as a slick-fielding, Gold Glove potential, middle infielder, but has a bat that is more suitable for the bottom of the order. He was the starting short stop for the Cuban National team in 2013 before defecting in November 2013. Arruebarruena was also a teammate of Yasiel Puig with Cienfuegos in Cuba.
As I said, Arruebarruena is more valued for his glove, and is likely to be a backup infielder should he make the Dodgers Major League roster. Per Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors, he should be headed to the minors in the early going. That being said, do not be surprised if he is considered a candidate for the open reserve infielder position.
Ben Badler at Baseball America had this to say in a story from November:
“He’s a premium defender at a premium position with questions on the bat,” said one international scouting director. “If you’re built well offensively around the field other than shortstop, you can live with that if you get outstanding defense. But the bat is still the question mark.”Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com wrote this about Arruebarruena's scouting showcase in December:
“He’s what you’ve been reading. He’s a very good defensive player. His glove is very close to the big leagues. The bat, you kind of think he’s one of those guys who’ll bat down in the order. He can really play shortstop, if that’s the type of player you’re interested in. He’ll be a quality defensive shortstop in the Major Leagues, but you wonder if he’s going to hit. Some of the others who have come recently – Jose Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria — I felt more confident about the bat. We’ll have to hear what the money is. This isn’t like watching Aroldis Chapman or Yeonis Cespedes. You’re not going to hear from 15 teams. You’ll hear from teams that are hurting a little bit at shortstop.”Welcome to the Blue, Erisbel Arruebarruena!
For the fantasy Baseball card above, I used the vintage 1987 Topps Baseball card design and a photo taken during a friendly game between Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Cuba in 2013 (Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac).
Below are some videos featuring Arruebarruena.
Below, you can watch Arruebarruena swing the bat poorly, from early 2013 against Hanshin in Japan.
Here are a couple of more good defensive plays by Arruebarruena.
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