Today I wanted to take a look at a recently much talked about prospect who was eligible in the Rule 5 Draft but went unselected. Junior Arias has had his ups and downs in the system since signing, starting out well with the Dayton Dragons this year but struggling when he was promoted to Bakersfield with the Blaze. He made the transition from third base, where he struggled with his throws leading to a fielding percentage under .900 every season as an infielder, to a center fielder.
Hit Tool: Arias has average to slightly-above average hit tool potential. He can hit the ball hard to all fields, though he does have pull tendencies at this point in his career.
Power: This is an area where Arias can shine and show off above-average to plus power potential. With very good bat speed and strength, he can hit the ball a long way and started to show off some of that potential in 2013 where he hit 15 home runs to go with 24 doubles and 6 triples.
Speed: Another tool where Arias can really shine as he shows off plus-plus speed. It helps him in the outfield and on the bases where he stole a career best 60 bases in 2013. While he doesn’t always show it off down the line on infield groundballs, he has been timed in the 3.8-3.9 range from home to first base from the right side at times.
Defense: A work in progress for Arias who has the speed to be an above-average defender in center field, but needs to continue to put in the work to better his reads and routes in the outfield. Currently his speed will help him outrun some mistakes, but with improvement he could be an excellent defender.
Arm: While he was moved from the infield because of throwing issues, they were accuracy related and not arm strength related. Arias has a plus arm in the outfield.
Overall Thoughts: With the offensive tools that Arias has he could be a very strong hitter, but he has major problems identifying offspeed pitches and it leads to him being very aggressive at the plate. His hit and power tools both play down because of his plate approach and despite hitting .272 during the season, his 18 walks against 132 strikeouts led to a low .305 on-base percentage. Without improving his pitch recognition skills, he will continue to struggle against advanced pitching. His overall package of tools can only be matched by one player in the system, but he has quite a ways to go before he can turn those tools into skills, particularly at the plate.