The Spokane Indians of the short-season A Northwest League have five players who made the Northwest League All Star team — pitchers Hans Crouse and Emmanuel Clase, catcher Francisco Ventura, first baseman Curtis Terry, and infielder Diosbel Arias. Crouse, is, of course, the most exciting name on the list, Terry is mashing home runs and has been a dark horse prospect for a while, Clase came over earlier this year from San Diego in the Brett Nicholas trade, and Ventura is a 19 year old from Venezuela having a nice season splitting time between catcher and DH.
Arias, meanwhile, has barely been on any radars. Julio Pablo Martinez is the big-name guy signed from Cuba in last year’s J-2 class, and the 22 year old center fielder is having a nice year for the Indians, slashing .242/.365/.447, albeit with some contact concerns (he’s striking out 25% of the time). Arias was signed at the start of last year’s J-2 period for a $700,000 signing bonus, having left Cuba in 2015 at the age of 19, and only being cleared to sign last year. To the extent we think about him, its as the other Cuban the Rangers signed during the last J-2 period.
Nevertheless, he’s been tearing it up in the Pacific Northwest this year. In 156 plate appearances over 36 games, he’s slashing .364/.442/.508, with just 20 Ks against 17 walks. He’s currently fifth in the Northwest League in OPS, trailing only Joey Bart (the #2 overall pick in the 2018 draft), Curtis Terry, Luis Castro of the Rockies organization, and Trevor Adams, a 23 year old with just 64 plate appearances. That is an impressive debut for a guy who, since the 2014-15 Cuban season, has played in just 8 games, all in 2017 for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League team.
Arias, who just turned 22 last month, has 19 starts at third base, 10 starts at shortstop, and 4 at second base. Despite the great start, he’s not showing up on any of the updated Rangers midseason prospect lists, and I can find just about nothing on him in the way of scouting reports, whether that be hitting or fielding.
One of the things we should all know by now is that we shouldn’t get too worked up over stats in short season ball. That said, Arias is more or less age appropriate for the level (he was 21 at June draft time, making him the same age as guys just drafted from college who are mostly debuting in short-season ball), and he’s playing in an affiliate league for essentially the first time in three-plus years. His performance, especially as an infielder, is worth notice.