Hot Rod of the Day 4/11/14: Armando Araiza

By Fletcher Keel

The Burlington Bees finished off a sweep of the Bowling Green Hot Rods yesterday afternoon by scoring twice in the bottom of the eighth to complete the comeback, and win the game 5-4. If it’s not one problem, it’s another for the Hot Rods, who finally got their bats going in the series, but in the end it turned out to be the pitching that faltered. But unlike the past games in this losing streak, yesterday’s game saw a plethora of guys who very well could have been our Hot Rod of the Day. Ultimately, I felt the brightest star on the diamond yesterday for Bowling Green was behind the plate: catcher Armando Araiza.

Arazia has been in the Rays organization since 2010, and while not quite as big a name as Granden Goetzman or Blake Snell, he still carries with him a good sensibility around the organization as a consistent player to keep an eye on. He split time between Princeton and Bowling Green last season.

Araiza came to the Rays from Mexico, and has been impressing people in every stop he’s made so far. In 2012, he finished the Gulf Coast League season having a 35% caught stealing percentage, but ended the year still needing to work on blocking pitches in the dirt. The next season in the winter Mexican Pacific League, Arazia showed how much he had worked on his defense through the off season, and finished this past winter allowing just five passed balls, and continued to learn the game better as he can call a game very well for a single-A prospect. At the plate, meanwhile, he is going to get on base and drive guys in, but very seldom will he leave the park. He couples good bat speed with tremendous patience at the plate, and posted a 20-31 BB-K ratio last season.

Yesterday, Armando Araiza was only able to put the ball in play once, but it did drive in a run in the top of the third (a three-run inning for the Hot Rods). Behind the plate, however, is where Araiza earned his stripes, as he threw out the same guy stealing on two different occasions. Los Angeles Angels farmhand Ranyelmy Mendoza decided he wanted to swipe second base in the fourth and sixth innings, but Araiza did not allow it to happen. It’s still early in the year, but Araiza has only allowed one runner take second on his watch, and if he continues to improve that aspect of his game, he is going to become a very dangerous all-around player. The Rays have several interesting catching prospects–Araiza’s fellow Bowling Green catcher Oscar Hernandez among them–but Araiza is starting to establish himself as a player to watch as well.