Last night, a brawl between the Albuquerque Isotopes (Dodgers AAA) and Reno Aces (Diamondbacks AAA) led to nine players and a manager (Phil Nevin of the Aces) being ejected. In the middle of the mess was Dodgers prospect/signing Erisbel Arruebarrena, and what a gigantic mess it was.
But let’s go back to the start of it all.
On Friday, Arruebarrena hit his first homer for the Isotopes in the top of the sixth against Aces pitcher Kameron Loe. Erisbel took a while to get around the bases and the opposition wasn’t happy.
The broadcaster mentions that the Aces catcher Bobby Wilson was staring him down and was not pleased. But they couldn’t get retribution in that game as Erisbel was removed for Carlos Triunfel in the bottom of the seventh.
Now fast forward to yesterday during Arruebarrena’s first plate appearance. Aces pitcher Mike Bolsinger clearly wanted to send a message and threw at Erisbel with the first pitch, but the plate appearance continued on relatively normally after that. Eventually, Arruebarrena struck out, and while he stood there to argue the strike three call, catcher Blake Lalli seemed to brush by him with a purpose.
Arruebarrena did not like that much and got in Lalli’s face and then shoved Lalli. Aces first baseman Mike Jacobs ran in to presumably fight Erisbel, so then Erisbel threw his helmet at him.
The throw itself showed solid velocity and accuracy, especially since he was throwing off-balance and moving away. That makes a lot of sense considering his coordination and prowess at shortstop, and it also says a lot about his character and sense of calm. The throw missed because of a last-second duck, but it still has to be considered a present plus tool with plus-plus future potential as he learns to gauge the speed and avoidance moves of oncoming rushers.
After the helmet throw, that’s when Erisbel’s flee tactic kicks in.
Arruebarrena shows good avoidance and agility to get away from the initial rush of Jacobs and Lalli, as well as the scrum of a half dozen Aces players wanting to pummel him.
That said, instead of turning his shoulders to run, he choose to backpedal and eventually gets blindsided. Going forward, he needs to work on his hip fluidity and drop his pride in order to fully utilize the flight part of the fight-or-flight reaction. I think he has it in him to make fleeing from a fight a plus tool eventually, as shown by the potential of his initial reaction to run instead of break his collarbone like Zack Greinke.
Overall, I’d say there’s a lot of upside, but he could use time to refine his tools in AAA. Maybe a few more brawls in the minors and he’ll be ready for MLB action, potentially against the heavy hitters of grit and unwritten rules in the D-Backs and Kirk Gibson. Hell, he may even face Bolsinger again.
As for Joc Pederson, I didn’t see him. I imagine him sitting in the dugout with his face in his hands, thinking silently to himself, “Why … why can’t I just go to Los Angeles?” And then openly weeping for the rest of the game.