2020 season age: 25 – Throws: Right – Bats: Right – Contract: – Pre-Arb ($583,300)
2019 in review: Arroyo missed most of 2019 with what looks like forearm tendinitis but was referred to as an elbow injury. In 19 games with Tampa Bay hit just .220/.304/.380 with two homers, two doubles and seven RBI playing second and third base. In 134 plate appearances he appeared to be having a breakout year at Triple-A (who wasn’t?), hitting .314/.381/.603 with eight homers and 29 RBI.
Beyond the stats: Based on the current breadth of hitters in the minor league system, I’d say what drew the Indians to Arroyo was his contact ability. In the minors he regularly low-to-mid teens in strikeout rate (11%-175), however, with below average walk rates (5.6% was his highest). But the idea that he made a lot of contact suggested decent barrel control and the ability to add power. He’d never shown much power in the minors, but reports suggested that he’d be able to add some to his pull side to be average. But what would look to limit that is his batted ball profile. Arroyo has always hit ground balls about 45% of the time, or more with his fly ball rates never crawling past the mid-20% range. The raw power he might have that could translate to game power is limited by his batted ball profile.
Offensive impact: As noted, Arroyo brings contact skills with average power. He is certainly more hit over power as a prospect and a hitter in general, but the ability to hit has always been rated very highly with him going back to his days just after the Giants made him a first round pick. He’s not much of a runner, so a high average and the ability to turn the bat control into better contact authority is his ticket.
Defensive impact: He was drafted as a shortstop, but actually didn’t play it in travel ball because he was teammates with current Indians CF Oscar Mercado, who played SS on those teams with him and came up in the Cardinals system as a shortstop for a few years. Most scouts felt like Arroyo lacked the range to play shortstop long term, but would be able to play well at second, but might lack the power to play at third, but the glove would work there as well. He can probably fill in at short but probably profiles more regularly at second and third.
2020 role: Arroyo is out of options, so it’s pretty likely that he’s going to be the 26th man on the Indians roster in 2020. What role comes of having that spot by default is to be determined. He can play three infield spots and can hit a little, or was able to in the minors when healthy. He’ll probably serve as the utility infielder, which is a heck of an upgrade over the Indians carrying someone like Eric Stamets and Max Moroff for weeks in 2019. However, Arroyo doesn’t have a ton of big league experience and playing in that role can be tough for someone of his age level and experience. In fact, the Indians usually try to guard against putting players in this role, like Erik Gonzalez, because it’s hard for them to learn how to be ready to play any given day when they’ve never had time to get ready to play as a regular. With stalwarts like Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor who play 150-160 games, playing time might be limited. It’s going to be hard to tell what the Indians are going to do with him. But they seem to like him and unless he’s hurt or is absolutely a disaster in camp, he seems like a lock to make the team. The biggest question for Arroyo besides that is his health. It seems he’s been unlucky at times with injuries coming from being hit by a pitch two seperate times and injuries flaring up from those instances. But some call his playing style as “aggressive” which lends itself to more potential injuries. All of that muddles Arroyo in 2020 other than the situation with his minor league options.
Fantasy impact: I would look for Arroyo to start on the Indians bench do to his options situation I mentioned. Second base is really the only spot on the roster he’s probably going to have a chance to steal at bats at, unless the Indians finally rotate Ramirez and Lindor through DH spots occasionally to give them some quasi-days off. Cesar Hernandez is a solid starter so Hernandez would have to lose playing time and Arroyo would have to prove he can earn it in order to get regular at bats. So while he might own a roster spot, regular at bats don’t look like they’re coming his way just yet. But the ability hit could make him an interesting option if that playing time ever opens up based on his minor league track record and scouting reports. He’s not rosterable just based on having an MLB roster spot, but keep an eye on what kind of playing time the Indians give him and you could gather some offensive upside with multi-position eligibility later in the summer. Being a former top-100 prospect, it’s hard to not still at least watch him as a potential fantasy asset as far as average is concerned, especially at a position as weak as second base right now. Keep an eye on health too, as Arroyo has a scattered injury history.