Arias was one of many seven-figure signees in San Diego’s 2016 J2 class, signing from Venezuela for a $1.9M bonus. He played the entire season as an 18-year-old for Ft. Wayne, showing high-upside tools despite struggling at times against older competition. While his OPS was just .654 for the whole season, Arias finished strong in August, slashing .286/.353/.562 with four of his six homers during the last full month of 2018.
Built with a wiry and tapered frame, Arias’ 6-foot-1 and 200-pound body is a scout’s dream. He looks the part of a big league infielder right now, and there’s plenty of room to add strength without sacrificing mobility. Offensively, there’s more present raw power than most teenage shortstops, as plus batspeed and natural leverage in the swing create hard contact when squared. The ball jumps off Arias’ bat, and his path stays in the zone long enough to show present ability to use the other field. His youth shows up in his approach and contact ability, however, and I saw Arias struggle consistently with pitch ID and expanding against off-speed both early and late in the season. He struck out in nearly 30-percent of plate appearances this year, mostly due to a lack of situational awareness and inability to shorten up when behind in counts. Arias has a cannon arm that’s a sure bet to remain on the left side of the infield. His actions at shortstop are playable, and while I wouldn’t rule out his ability to remain at the position, there’s a chance he grows into a physical frame that’s better suited for third base.
I’m not that concerned about Arias’ ability to tighten up parts of his hit tool and on-base ability. He’s young and athletic enough to project significant development in the next 2-3 years. The best-case ceiling is an everyday left-side infielder, one that has interesting power potential if he’s able to remain at shortstop. Arias has enough defensive ability and athleticism to project at least a utility infielder, even if all his loud raw tools don’t fully come together.