2014 Dodgers in Review: SS Erisbel Arruebarrena

MiLB 272 .259 .304 .417 ? 6 n/a
MLB 45 .195 .244 .220 33 0 -0.5

What happened in 2014: Was signed out of Cuba, got off to a late start, spent most of the season in the minors, but not without complication.

Erisbel Arruebarrena’s path to the majors began in February, when he signed with the Dodgers out of  Cuba for five years and $25 million. We had the story as it broke.

“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.”

He since clarified his name didn’t have the second “u,” which made his already difficult name even more difficult to pronounce.

Arruebarrena showed up to Dodgers’ spring training in March, when I (think) I had the first tweet about his arrival.

We’ve been on Arruebarrena since he signed. It’s just a shame his first season didn’t go as well as we (and the organization, obviously) had hoped.

Since he got to camp late, he began the season in at Double-A Chattanooga in April. He didn’t light the world on fire, offensively (.208/.252/.302, 31 strikeouts in 105 plate appearances), but he was recalled to the Dodgers and made his MLB debut in Philadelphia on May 23. He would play a little before Hanley Ramirez came back from injury. Arruebarrena hurt himself and spent a portion of 2014 on the disabled list. The real “fun” happened in August.

In what was a meaningless Triple-A game, Arruebarrena pimped a home run off then-Diamondback-now-Dodger Mike Bolsinger for no apparent reason. What happened the next day was a sight to behold, and could only be retold by our Chad Moriyama.

“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.”

See? Fun. You can read the rest of Chad’s recap here.

Arruebarrena would be recalled in September and didn’t play much or make the postseason roster. His defensive prowess is undeniable. He’s worth a couple wins alone with his glove. But, his offensive is extremely questionable. The fact that we’d be thrilled if he were even replacement level (not league-average, mind you) should tell you everything you need to know. He’s going to swing and miss – a lot – but he has a frame that could produce some gap pop, but I’d be surprised if he were ever a threat offensively.

He’s still young (25 in May), so he isn’t a completely lost cause. But, the new front office didn’t sign this guy. They aren’t as attached to him as the previous regime was, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him with another team next year – or at least, not in Los Angeles.

2015 status: Entering the second year of his 5-year deal and set to make $4.5 million. In line (as of now) to be the Dodgers’ starting shortstop. More likely, he’ll bounce between backup in Los Angeles and starter in Oklahoma City – if he isn’t traded this winter.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. 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.