Puckett’s Pond’s Minnesota Twins 2018 Top-40 Prospects: #11-15

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BOSTON, MA - JULY 28: A Minnesota Twins ballbag on the field before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 28, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 28: A Minnesota Twins ballbag on the field before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 28, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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No. 14  Luis Arraez, 2B, Chattanooga Lookouts

Nate’s Rank: 15,  Gary’s Rank: 18

21-year-old Venezuelan Luis Arraez signed as an international free-agent way back in 2013. He started his pro career in 2014 with Twins team in the Dominican Summer League where he hit  .348 /.433/.400, striking out nine times while drawing 16 walks in 115 at-bats. He started out of the gate hitting and has moved up quickly in the organization despite missing all but three games of the 2017 season requiring surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee.

Bumped up to the rookie league GCL Twins in 2015, Arraez hit .309, with ten strikeouts and 19 walks in 208 at-bats. That winter he got his first taste of Venezuelan Winter League baseball, hitting .286 for Magallanes where league position players are over nine years older on average.

Next stop, 2016 Class A Cedar Rapids at age 19. Arraez slashed a line of .347/.386/.444, winning the Midwest League batting title, becoming the first teenager to do so in either lower Class A league since 2006. He spent the following winter raking the Venezuelan Winter League with a line of .335/.382/.445. Martin Schlegel identified Arraez as an unnoticed up-and-comer in a summer of 2006 Puckett’s Pond article:

"It’s worth the reminder that he is still 19. He’s the youngest player on the Kernels roster and he’s arguably the team’s best player. At such a young age, the season Arraez is having comes at a surprise to most. When Arraez is hitting above .300 in 2017 it won’t be anymore and he won’t be as unknown and overlooked as he has been this year."

As Schlegel predicted, Arraez did hit .385 in 2016, but the ACL injury occurred on just his 13th and final at-bat of the year with advanced A Level Fort Myers.

Last season’s knee injury was a setback, but Arraez has come back strong. Returning to Fort Myers to start 2018 was the first snag in his quick rise up the ladder. The question was how well and how quickly he would rebound. The 5′ 10″, 155-pound left side swinger hit .320/.373/.421 in 228 at-bats, earning himself a well-deserved promotion to AA Chattanooga.

Arraez has played very well for the Lookouts. He is carrying a slash line of .303/.359/.361, with 13 strikeouts and 13 walks in 155 at-bats against position players averaging three years his senior. Born April 9, 1997, the 20-year-old is not just the youngest player on the Chattanooga roster, he is over 1.5 years younger than next youngest Lookouts, recently acquired pitchers Devin Smeltzer (our #38 prospect) and Jorge Alcala. He is also the fourth-youngest position player in the Southern League, and the only one of the four experiencing marked success.

MLB.com has Arraez ranked #15 on the Twins mid-season prospect list, up from #24 on their preseason evaluation. Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

Luiz Arraez has been moved a bit around the infield this season, but his place is at second base. He has a very reliable glove, a career .981 fielding percentage at the position. Not ever considered fast on his feet, his range may have taken a bit of a hit with the knee injury. His biggest drawback is the lack of power, current and projectable. The key to the future rides heavily on Arraez getting on base with his natural hitting ability and strong plate discipline as he continues to face tougher competition at the rate of at least one level a season.

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