by Matt Wilkes

Meet Edwin Arroyo

While Noelvi Marte is widely considered the best player the Reds received in the Luis Castillo trade with the Mariners, Edwin Arroyo isn’t far behind. Some, like ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, are even calling Arroyo the “headliner” of the Castillo trade.

Arroyo is a shortstop who was unranked on most top-100 prospect lists coming into the season but is rising quickly. He’s having a big season in the lower levels of the minor leagues and now finds himself ranked among the top-100 prospects in the game by MLB Pipeline (#55) and Baseball America (#45). He’s also an honorable mention in The Athletic’s (Keith Law) midseason top-60 update.

Arroyo is now ranked as the Reds’ third-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, behind only Elly De La Cruz and Marte. With Nick Lodolo still prospect-eligible by Baseball America’s standards, Arroyo is fourth in their midseason update.

Clearly, Arroyo is another in a growing list of exciting prospects in the Cincinnati farm system. But what exactly do the Reds have in him? Let’s take a closer look.

Background

First, the basics: Arroyo just turned 19 on August 25. He was listed at 6-feet tall and 175 pounds at the time he was drafted. Reports have noted he’s already started to add some muscle to his frame. Arroyo is ambidextrous. Not only is he a switch-hitter, but he’s also a switch-thrower. The latter skill, of course, is more of a fun tidbit than something that’ll come into play in pro baseball. But he did pitch as a left-hander during his high school days.

Arroyo is from Puerto Rico, where his father, Edwin Sr., played professionally. The younger Arroyo played for Arecibo Baseball Academy until he transferred to Central Pointe Christian Academy in Kissimmee, Florida for his senior year. He was committed to play at Florida State University when the Mariners selected him in the second round (48th overall pick) of the 2021 draft. Arroyo’s father mentioned that the Reds were also interested in drafting Arroyo. Rather than go to college, Arroyo signed his professional contract for an over-slot bonus of $1,650,000.

Arroyo was assigned to the Arizona Complex League and appeared in 21 games to wrap up the 2021 season. It was a small sample, but the 17-year-old didn’t turn many heads in his pro debut. He hit just .211/.337/.324 with a 30.2% strikeout rate in 86 plate appearances. During the offseason, Arroyo played in the Puerto Rican Winter League and hit .250/.333/.304 in 65 plate appearances.

Arroyo’s first full professional season, however, has made everyone forget about his lackluster cup of coffee in 2021.

This Season

Arroyo entered the season as a top-15 prospect in the Mariners organization: #15 per Baseball America, #9 per MLB Pipeline, #7 per FanGraphs, and #14 per The Athletic’s Keith Law. But he was off the radar in top-100 lists. That quickly changed.

Despite his unexciting performance in the ACL in 2021, the Mariners started him in Low-A Modesto this season. He rewarded their confidence in him by hitting .316/.385/.514 with in 410 plate appearances and 87 games. It should be noted that the California League is hitter-friendly and may have inflated Arroyo’s numbers at least a tad. However, his offensive output (131 wRC+) far outpaced the the league average (.255/.355/.406).

He had a 22.0% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate with the Modesto Nuts, both of which are roughly average. Considering he’s playing against peers who are 3.1 years older than him on average, it’s impressive he was able to bring down his strikeout rate from a concerning level in the ACL.

Arroyo has already started tapping into his power at a young age, too. His top-end exit velocity has reportedly been around 108 mph, which isn’t eye-popping but is strong for an 18-year-old. Arroyo hit 13 home runs with Modesto and posted a .198 isolated power (ISO). The average ISO at the MLB level is .150; anything approaching a .200 ISO is excellent.

By the time he was dealt to the Reds, he was the Mariners’ second-ranked prospect behind only Marte.

The Reds assigned Arroyo to Low-A Daytona, where his production has slowed down a bit in just a handful of games so far (91 wRC+ in 77 plate appearances). While the hits haven’t come yet, he’s still showing off some power (four doubles, two triples, one home run) and a good eye at the plate (10.4 BB%).

Hitting Approach

Coming into the season, the knock on Arroyo at the plate was that his swing could get too big. However, he’s shown better contact ability than anticipated, and scouts have been surprised by how quickly he’s started tapping into his raw power.

Arroyo has a wide open, crouched batting stance from both sides of the plate, with his front foot on the outer edges of the batter’s box and pointing away from his body. If you want an MLB comparison, Arroyo’s stance is reminiscent of Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong, although even more wide open.

The swing, however, looks different. Arroyo starts his swing with a leg kick, following through with quick hands and a bit of an uppercut angle.

Here was Arroyo’s first homer in the Reds organization, which came as a lefty:

Here’s his swing from the right side of the plate:

Here’s a slow-mo look at his right-handed swing from the side:

Like Marte, Arroyo’s open stance results in a lot of pull contact. Just over 50% of his batted balls this season have been pulled. The MLB average is 40%. But he certainly has the ability to cover the outer part of the plate and hit the ball with authority to the opposite field. This was his first hit in the Reds’ organization:

Arroyo has hit better from the left side of the plate, though he’s been far from a slouch from the right side.

  • Left: .306/.377/.488, .865 OPS
  • Right: .271/.355/.495, .850 OPS
Defense

There aren’t many questions about Arroyo’s defense, which was considered well ahead of his offense when he was drafted last year. Scouting reports say his athleticism makes him a natural at shortstop, and he makes quick reads and has good range. As a former pitcher, he also has plus arm strength.

While many shortstops in the Reds’ organization could end up at other positions, scouting reports are more confident that Arroyo will stick there. Baseball America believes he has the potential to be a “plus-plus” defender at shortstop. FanGraphs, though, feels Arroyo may end up at second base in the long run.

Like most young infielders, he’s made his share of errors this season (15 in 84 games). But there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that he has the range to stay at shortstop for a long time.

Looking Ahead

Of all the exciting shortstops in the Reds’ farm system, it will probably take the longest for Arroyo to arrive in the big leagues. The organization certainly doesn’t need to rush him given the depth ahead of him, which makes it difficult to see him arriving before 2025 or 2026. That said, Arroyo could certainly force the issue sooner if he continues to surpass expectations and hit the way he has in 2022. And if he does that, he’ll have a good chance of being the Reds’ top prospect by the time he does get to the big leagues.

Featured Image: Arroyo during his time with the Modesto Nuts (Flickr)

Matt got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.