In 10 words or fewer: Beautiful swing, great patience, and enough speed and defense.
Position: 2B | Age (2016): 23
Bats: L | Throws: R
Height: 5’8″ | Weight: 175
2015 Rank: N/A
Contact – B-. Tim has an absolutely beautiful swing. It’s short, compact, he stays inside the pitch and will at times crowd the plate, which shows a degree of fearlessness. It makes sense, since as a lefty, Tim’s already drifting toward 1B in the swing, so pitches on the inner half he has plenty of time to get around on. The strikeout numbers are mostly a result of Tim suffering from what helped make Mike Trout a league leader, which is over-selectivity and chasing the high fastball.
Power – C. There’s plenty of power here to keep the OF playing him honest. While Tim isn’t likely to become a power hitter, he should certainly with at least 30 doubles and 5 HR’s a year at any level, depending on the hitting environment of course. What works for Tim though, he’s a natural 2B, it isn’t frowned upon for middle infielders not to hit for much power.
Discipline – A. This probably should be Arakawa’s calling card as a professional ball player. Yes, he can hit for average and spray line drives to all fields, but more than anything, this kid can reach base. He works the count in EVERY at bat, and has shown a great deal of comfort swinging with two strikes or walking to 1B. There’s an old saying in regard to Latin American players “You don’t walk off the island, you hit your way off the island”. Well clearly, Arakawa was able to walk his way off the island of Hawaii, and into professional baseball.
Speed – B. Being an athletic middle infielder, foot speed comes with the territory. While Arakawa hasn’t shown much of a willingness to be overly aggressive on the base paths, he is a very smart runner. He can take the extra bag, which is the Angel way.
Arm – C. Time is a 2B exclusively, and his arm grades out around average for a 2B. He did get in a couple innings at 3B and SS but he simply doesn’t have the arm strength to become a permanent fixture over there, at least not by my evaluation. Still, as long as he remains a 2B, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Fielding – B. It’s hard to be an A+ fielder as a 2B if you aren’t an uber-athletic converted shortstop, but Arakawa does his best impression. He has a good glove and is very steady.
Range – B. Again, not elite speed, and thus not elite range like a converted shortstop, but still quite good.
Performance – A. Hard not to be immediately impressed with Arakawa and the way he stormed professional baseball. The Angels were impressed with his refinement and aggressive style of play, and so they moved him beyond Rookie Ball and straight into A Ball. Unlike others who buckled under the pressure of an advanced level of play without the advantage of a hitter-friendly environment, Tim rose to the occasion and delivered a fine season, becoming one of the better hitters in the league upon his arrival.
Projection – C+. Arakawa doesn’t have the power to turn into an elite power hitting middle infielder. He doesn’t have the speed to turn into a base thief, or the defense to be the 2B version of Andrelton Simmons. But what he does have is the knack for squaring up the ball and spraying line drives to all fields and reaching base. He plays just enough defense and runs just enough to keep himself from being buried upon a depth chart with no hope for promotion.
What to expect in 2016 – Arakawa just did too much at the plate in Orem and the Midwest League next year not to be in the Cal League in 2016. Though the Angels are likely to take their time, if Arakawa lays waste to Advanced A Ball the way he’s capable of, it’s feasible we see him in AA next year, which would be impressive for a position player. In case you haven’t picked up yet, I’m really optimistic on Arakawa. The tools don’t jump out, but that beautiful swing and approach at the plate certainly does.
Most Likely Scenario – Looking at Tim’s swing, style of play, and the way coaches, scouts and teammates talk about him, I think he’s going to make it to the big leagues into some role based on the undefined “grit” he plays with. I really think he’ll be a big leaguer.
Grade as a Prospect – C. Low minors success as a 22-year-old isn’t uncommon, though certainly encouraging. Now if he has another very good season in the Cal League next year, then absolutely, we can get a little more excited about him as a prospect. But until then, he’s under “wait and see” status. He does have the chance to be a Giavotella type of 2B with better defense and more ability to reach base.
Estimated Time of Arrival – 2019. Assuming Arakawa continues to hit the ball and reach base, he should climb the ladder at a steady rate and reach the majors in his mid-20’s.