The Tampa Bay Rays have yet another weapon in outfielder Randy Arozarena.
All the way back in early January of this year, when the Tampa Bay Rays traded one of their top pitching prospects in Matthew Liberatore, along with minor league catcher Edgardo Rodriguez and a 2020 supplemental second-round pick to the St. Louis Cardinals for first baseman/outfielder Jose Martinez and outfielder Randy Arozarena (and a supplemental first-round pick), many initially questioned why.
However, we should know by now to trust the Tampa Bay Rays when they pay up for a player they want.
The Rays have since traded Jose Martinez to the Chicago Cubs for two players to be named later (or cash considerations), opening the door for more playing time for 25-year-old outfielder Randy Arozarena.
Arozarena has wasted no time in showcasing his skill set in a Rays uniform and has quickly opened a lot of eyes.
Through his first six games, dating back to August 30th, Arozarena is hitting .467 with a .556 on-base percentage, and three home runs. Entering Monday, September 7th, Arozarena is riding a three-game hitting streak, including a multi-home run game on Sunday.
Here’s a look at his second home run from Sunday and all I can say is, holy bat speed.
Coming up through the minor leagues, Arozarena was always streaky, but really started to put things together in 2019 while repeating Triple-A with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 64 games, Arozarena slashed .358/.435/.593 with 32 total extra-base hits, a 151 wRC+, and a career-low 17% strikeout rate. It earned him his first major league call-up where he made 23 plate appearances, hitting .300 with one home run in his short stint.
Despite being 25, there’s still a considerable amount of upside when it comes to Arozarena’s game. He possesses the speed to play all three outfield positions and has enough arm strength to find a home in right field and there just might be a bit more power in his bat than what most scouting reports believe.
Just how fast is he? He ranked in the 96th percentile in sprint speed last season. That will play.
It was a long road to this point in 2020. Arozarena tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of summer camp. It took an entire month for him to receive the required negative test result to resume baseball activities, placing him significantly behind in terms of being game ready.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash recently called him a “spark” with the “ability to do some special things for us” in an interview on a recent broadcast. After his play this weekend, it’s safe to say that the spark has been lit.
The Rays currently hold a 5.5 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East and outside of Kevin Kiermaier, there are questions about whether or not Manuel Margot can be a consistent hitter down the stretch and whether or not Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Hunter Renfroe can finish the season with an average above .200.
A determined Randy Arozarena is already proving to be a dangerous player and one who provides a significant boost to one of the top teams in Major League Baseball.
Some guys are late-bloomers, and we know that player development isn’t linear. If there’s one organization who can bring out the best in Arozarena, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays. The sample size is very small, but he just might be here to stay, giving the Rays yet another weapon to navigate their way through the AL East for the rest of this season and beyond.