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Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena is ready to carve his niche

Photo (Twitter): Randy Arozarena is looking to become a star this season.

By Yusseff Díaz

Once a highly touted international prospect, Randy Arozarena is looking to become a star with the Tampa Bay Rays this MLB season. In his second season with Tampa, the five-tool talent is looking cement his superstar status. The talented Cuban was signed by the Cardinals in 2016 as an international free agent for 1.25 during the international free agency period.

The native of Pinar del Río debuted in minors during 2017 season with the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League was named an all-star after hitting .266 with 11 homers, 49 runs batted in and 18 stolen bases. During the winter of 2017, he played in the Mexican Winter League with the Navojoa Mayans and led the league in longballs with 14.

“During the winter one learns many nuances that can be applied to game situations, I played with many experienced players in México and I applied what I learned to my game during the season. I saw a multitude of quality pitching that also helped me during the upcoming season. “His great season earned him a promotion to AA Springfield at the season’s end.

Photo (Web Screen Shot): Randy Arozarena during his time with Cuba’s junior national team.

For Randy Arozarena, 2018 was another productive year between AA-AAA the power-hitting but diminutive outfielder hit a whopping .274 and went yard 12 times. This earned him a spot in the futures game. The young toolsy outfielder found himself on the cusp of the big leagues especially because of his versatility.

In the 2018 offseason, he returned to the Mayans in the Mexican Winter League but only appeared in 15 games. His incursion in the league was more to stay in shape and get a few quality reps in.

Randy Arozarena started the 2019 season on the injured list, but his .358 average and 12 dongs earned him a trip to the show with the big club. In his 19 games with the Cardinals in the big leagues, Arozarena hit .300 and deposited one ball in the stands.

The future looked bright for the Cuban at the end of 2019. During the off-season, Arozarena was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays and he has seized the moment at the time of this article, Randy’s sitting on a .750 AVG and leads with four runs batted in.

A Playoff God

During the 2020 coronavirus shortened season he hit a decent .281 with 7 longballs and 11 runs batted in, but in the playoffs Arozarena became a legend.

Not only did he break Derek Jeter’s playoff record by collecting 27 hits he also hit 10 round-trippers to set another playoff record. In the ALCS he was the Rays catalyst by hitting .321 in Tampa’s series win in seven games against Houston. His four homers and seven RBI’s to accompany his robust average garnered him the MVP award.

In the World Series against the Dodgers he hit an eye staggering .364 and went yard four time to continue his assault on postseason pitching. Although the Rays lost in six games, there is little doubt that Arozarena would have been in the conversation for the Most Valuable Player. During his brief career the young outfielder hits an eye popping .358 in the postseason.

Because of his showing in the playoffs many publications had Arozarena as the favorite for the Rookie of the Year heading into 2021 I asked him if he felt pressured to live up to those expectations and he had this to say about those expectations, ” I don’t feel pressured and I definitely don’t feel like a rookie. I’m only a rookie because of my service time. All I want to do is help my team win in any way possible, my numbers don’t really concern me that much if we win. My biggest goal is to return to the World Series and win a title.”

Photo (Web Screen Shot): Randy Arozarena during his time with the Vegueros de Pinar del Río.

Wanting to represent México

Arozarena  let his intentions be known to Pelota Cubana about playing in a future World Baseball Classic,” I’m still waiting to finish the naturalization process in México, but there is a good possibility I might represent the national team in the WBC”.

Although it isn’t a sure thing, he’s definitely interested in being part of the team in the upcoming tournament and stated that he wants no part of the Cuban National Team.

In fact, Arozarena stated to Pelota Cubana that the only way he would play on the island is in the provincial series with his hometown of Mantua,” I have no desire to play with Pinar del Río or the Cuban National Team, I feel at home in México. If I was to ever play in Cuba again it would be with my town of Mantua in the provincial series.”

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