Report: Dodgers to sign Cuban SS Erisbel Arruebarruena

That's an 80 name if I've ever seen one.

That’s an 80 name if I’ve ever seen one.

About 30 seconds ago, Enrique Rojas of ESPN reported that the Dodgers are about to sign Erisbel Arruebarruena. And we already have a full post written on him. Funny how that works sometimes.

If you don’t know how to pronounce Arruebarruena, you’re not alone. Once Vin Scully shows us how it’s done, then we’ll know.

The Dodgers are set to sign the 23-year-old Cuban shortstop, something Stan Kasten — of all people — alluded to at Dodger Stadium on Monday night in a town hall-style meeting with select season ticket holders.

Arruebarruena, 24 on March 25, is an all-glove shortstop. Think Jose Iglesias, if you want to compare him to a fellow countryman. Iglesias showed he has at least some hitting ability last year, whereas Arruebarruena could hit even less than Iglesias was projected to.

For the Dodgers, Arruebarruena profiles as a slick backup middle infielder — something they desperately need heading into the 2014 season. However, he could — and probably should — begin the season in the minor leagues so he can get used to professional baseball in the states. I hear the Lookouts could use a shortstop until Corey Seager is promoted.

Baseball America ranked him as the 10th-best prospect in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Scouts have expressed concerns about his ability to put the bat on the ball consistently.

“The bat, however, is a major source of concern with Arruebarruena, even more so than with Iglesias and more along the lines of Marlins Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. A righthanded hitter, Arruebarruena has a long swing, struggles with pitch recognition, swings through breaking balls in the strike zone and is prone to chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone. He has a pull-oriented approach and minimal power, so several scouts are skeptical he could hit better than .220 or hit a .300 on-base percentage against major league pitching.”

With a plus-plus glove, a .300 on-base percentage might be enough for him to be a regular, especially with the Dodgers’ potentially above-average offense.

But let’s be real. Arruebarruena isn’t going to displace Ramirez (who, yes, still isn’t signed beyond 2014), and is equally unlikely to displace the latest Cuban signee Alex Guerrero at second base (as long as Guerrero hits well enough). So, barring anything extremely unforeseen, he’s going to be a backup infielder — at least early in his career.

Since Arruebarruena played six years in Cuba’s top professional baseball league and is older than 23, he isn’t subject to MLB’s international spending limits (ala Yasiel Puig, Hyun-jin Ryu and Guerrero).

Most were hoping the “mystery man” would be Aledmys Diaz (who isn’t eligible to sign until Feb. 19), but this signing shouldn’t preclude a Diaz signing, who also wouldn’t fall under the international spending limit. But the Dodgers, like their outfielders, can only have so many infielders.

Arruebarruena was been scouted by the Mets late last year, a team hurting for a shortstop. Seriously, if Stephen Drew didn’t have a draft pick tied to his contract-to-be, he’d probably be a Met.

Keep on bringing in the talent. With as many (cheap) lottery tickets as the Dodgers have bought in the last couple years, they have to hit on some of them, right?


About

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called “Dugout Blues.” He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.