Jonathan Aranda, 2B, TAM

This past week saw the Rays make some deals to create more room on their 40-man roster, so they could, in part, add 23-year-old infielder Jonathan Aranda to that 40-man. When a team as loaded as the Rays tries to make room for you, you must be pretty good. Meet Mr. Aranda.

Video courtesy of Mayor Beisbol
  • Born: May 23, 1998
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • 5’10”, 173-lbs
  • Signed by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015 out of Mexico

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

He was signed back in 2015 as a teenager from Mexico, and he’s been in the Rays system ever since. Looking at his three most recent seasons, it’s clear that he always could get on base at a decent clip because a) he draws walks; and b) he doesn’t strike out often.

So once again we see that missing 2020 and wonder what is missing from that year? Look at the jump in 2021! Would 2020 have been a transition year from his old, sub-par power years to his mighty 2021? The strikeouts keep creeping up as he climbs levels, but it’s still at a terrific level. An infielder who strikes out less than 20% of the time is golden.

But that power! He did it at Bowling Green, and then he did it again at Montgomery. His Hard-hit % was just 28.5% for the season, a decent number, but not exceptional.

OK, let’s break it down by month at Double-A. Now we see that he had great months and good months. The power was always there every month, and the OBP jumped around but was always good. He struck out more than usual in September, but that could just be from being tired. And his walk rate, other than July, was metronomic.

Ah, we see an that while he did well both home and away, and in fact got on base more on the road with fewer strikeouts, the power was more at home by a lot. Combined with his middling Hard Hit%, I think we can put some of that power gain down to favorable conditions. Now don’t get me wrong, a .178 ISO on the road is miles better than he did in any previous year, so the power gain is real. Just not .200+ real.

Aranda bats left, and he hits lefties very, very well. But he hits righties just fine, thank you. No platoon issue here, thank you very much.

Savant doesn’t have his 2021 season up there with a lot more home runs to be placed on the chart. But even here we see some opposite-field home runs, and lotsa lotsa (a technical baseball phrase) doubles to left.

Finally, and although Fangraphs did not rank Aranda in their pre-season Top 133, there was this note:

“He’s one of the more likely names from this year’s honorable mentions to ascend next season.”

Eric Longenhagen, January 28, 2021

Well done, Eric. You nailed it before any of us did.

The Scouts

Warnings

The power is not this real, though it is real.

The strikeouts rise with each level, so eventually it could become merely good instead of excellent.

At 5’10”, 173 at age 23, there may not be much more room to grow, and even his breakout power season only led to low double-digit home runs, and he doesn’t steal much. He’s more of a get-on-base type than a knock-the-stuffing-out-of-the-ball type.

Conclusion

He hits lefties and he hits righties, he gets on base in his sleep, he draws walks, and he doesn’t strike out too much. Looks like a regular infielder and top-of-the-order type of bat to me. He conquered Double-A, next comes Triple-A, the Rays already have him on the 40-man. He’s ready.

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