In some references, his name is spelled “Arrozarena,” with three Rs instead of two.
In June 2015, Arozarena left Cuba, desiring to play in the U.S.
During his final season in Serie Nacional, Randy batted.291/.412/.419 in 74 games with 36 walks, 37 strikeouts, and 3 home runs.
Randy was just 19 years old when he had to make the most difficult decision of his life. He had been left off the Pinar del Rio (Cuba) roster for the 2015 Serie del Caribe in Puerto Rico, despite leading his team with 15 stolen bases and launching 3 home runs as the youngest player on the roster.
Pinar del Rio feared Arozarena would consider defection, which is why it elected not to take the young outfielder. The irony is that the decision is what ultimately drove Randy to start thinking about leaving his country and playing elsewhere.
"I felt like I was going to get left behind, the same way a lot of players have before," Randy said in Spanish. "In Cuba, if you have a bad week or two, they put you to the side and forget about you. But I said, 'Before that happens to me, I'm going to get out of here."
Arozarena's decision to leave Cuba dated back to him losing his father, Jesus, who was his biggest supporter. His father passed away in 2014 after an intense allergic reaction to a plate of seafood. Perhaps even more traumatic is the fact that his father's death happened at a baseball field as he watched his son play in a playoff game.
"After that happened," Randy said. "I just felt alone."
Once Arozarena got the blessing from his mother to leave Cuba, he took off for Mexico in a makeshift boat with about a dozen others. He spent about eight hours in the Gulf of Mexico, praying he would get there safely.
"When you're in the ocean, the only thing you're thinking about and hoping for is that you get there safely," Arozarena said. "There's been people that out in the ocean for days, months . . . and there are others who don't make it, because they die."
Once safely in Mexico, Randy had to start life all over again. He didn't know anybody in the country, and it took him a year and three months to get the necessary paperwork in order to sign with a Major League organization. In the meantime, Arozarena played for Tijuana in the Mexican League and switched from second base in Cuba to the outfield in Mexico. (John Toribio - Baseball Digest - Jan., 2021)
In 2016, Arozarena had been playing for the Toritos in the Mexican Northern League, where he hit .377/.466/.555 in 296 plate appearances, leading the league in batting average and stolen bases (42 in 54 attempts).
In 2016, the Cardinals signed Arozarena (see Transactions below).
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Arozarena as the 12th-best prospect in the Cardinals' organization. He was at #11 in 2018. He was at #17 in 2019. In 2020, Randy moved up to #10 best prospect in the Cardinals' farm system.
But in the spring of 2021, Randy was second-best prospect in the Rays' organization, behind only Wander Franco.
July 2018: Arozarena represented the Cardinals in the Futures All-Star game.
August 13, 2019: Randy had to do a double-take. He thought he was dreaming when Triple-A Memphis manager Ben Johnson phoned him while he was sleeping to tell him he was getting his first callup to the Major Leagues.
Add Arozarena’s haze with Johnson’s inability to speak Spanish very well—a 2 on a 10 scale, Randy said kindly—and Arozarena decided he needed to call his manager back.
It was only after Arozarena confirmed he was really going to the big leagues that he let himself celebrate. And he woke up rather quickly, too. The long-awaited arrival of the center fielder, who did everything he could in Triple-A to prove he should get a promotion, is here. And no one might be happier than Randy himself.
“I knew the callup was coming and it was close, but I didn’t want to focus my game around that,” Arozarena said. “I just kept working hard and coming to the ballpark every day, and tried to do my best every day.” (Rogers - mlb.com)
2019 Season: The raw talent has always been there with Arozarena, but prior to this season he had struggled to convert his tools into on-field production. A more refined approach, along with a more controlled overall game, helped the 24-year-old outfielder find some much-needed consistency in 2019, and he batted .344/.431/.571 with 15 homers and 17 steals in 92 games between Double- and Triple-A en route the Major Leagues.
The secret to Arozarena's power? Cowboy boots.
During the Rays’ last workout before the start of the ALDS, Arozarena trotted out on the field at Petco Park wearing his uniform paired with all-black cowboy boots. The boots belong to Rays pitcher Brent Honeywell, but finding random cowboy boots to wear is something Randy has done since his time in the Winter League in Mexico.
“I would grab the boots from my teammate in Mexico and I would just put them on,” Arozarena laughed. “Those are the boots that give me good luck and I always hit a home run.”
The superstition with the boots began in 2017 when Randy hit 14 home runs with Navojoa, leading the Mexican Winter League. Randy claims that every time he stole the boots from his teammate, he would go on to hit a home run. That power appears to have translated to the Major Leagues.
“I call them the power boots,” Arozarena said with a smile. “My teammates started telling me that those were the boots that were giving me good luck. That’s why I put the boots on a couple of days before the playoff game, and then I was able to hit a home run in my first at-bat last night.”
Kevin Cash smiled and said, “I hope he keeps wearing them then.” (Juan Toribio - Oct. 6, 2020)
Oct 17, 2020: Randy hadn’t even seen the trophy yet, but his teammates knew.
Moments after Manuel Margot caught the final out of the Rays’ ALCS Game 7 victory over the Astros, a scrum broke out behind the Petco Park pitcher's mound. Arozarena found himself at the center of it, and his teammates broke into a chorus: “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”
As he’s done each time Tampa Bay has advanced this postseason, Randy danced. Moments later, the worst-kept secret became official: Arozarena was the ALCS Most Valuable Player, the first rookie position player in MLB history to win an LCS or World Series MVP Award. The only previous players to win one were all pitchers—Mike Boddicker (1983 ALCS), Livan Hernández (1997 NLCS and World Series), and Michael Wacha (2013 NLCS).
A little-known piece in a four-player trade with St. Louis, Arozarena’s ascension has been astounding. He credits the fit in Tampa Bay.
“Ever since I got traded over, it’s felt like a family,” Randy said. “They welcomed me with open arms. They let me be myself. They let me have the freedom to be out there and be the player I want to be.”
As such, Arozarena has blossomed into a sweet-swinging, hard-hitting, dance-battling, boot-wearing star. He is as captivating for the style as the substance. First, Arozarena hits the 416-foot homer to put his team ahead in Game 7. Then, he carries his bat to the first-base line, chucks it, and thumps his chest.
First, Randy clinches a trip to the World Series with a smile and a throw of his glove. Then, he breaks out the lucky cowboy boots and the dance moves. (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - Oct 18, 2020)
Now that the dust has settled and the MLB postseason is distant memory, let’s take a look back and see just how amazing Arozarena’s performance in the playoffs truly was.
However, the only detraction to his accomplishments are the number of games played in during the unique 2020 postseason, in which MLB added another round. The Rays played two games during the Wild Card round against Toronto, five against New York, seven against Houston, and then six against Los Angeles, giving the Rays a Major League record number of 20 games played in a single postseason.
Overall, Arozarena hit .377/.442/.831 with 10 homeruns over 86 plate appearances. Three other Rays share the record with him for the most games played: Joey Wendle, Brandon Lowe, and Willy Adames.
So where does this performance place Arozarena in the game’s postseason history?
HR - 1st Hits - 1st AVG - 5th OBP - 12th SLG - 2nd Runs - 2nd Total Bases - 1st
Meanwhile, Randy completely shattered the Rays franchise records for single-season marks. He also he surpassed Evan Longoria for the most home runs ever in the postseason, as well as B.J. Upton for the most hits. (Adam Sanford - Nov 5, 2020)
In 2020, Arozarena won the Babe Ruth award as postseason MVP in voting by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Arozarena hit .377 with 10 homers, 14 RBIs, and a 1.273 OPS in 20 postseason games.
2020 Season: We all know how good of a postseason Randy had and he even picked up some awards to prove it. Arozarena holds records for hits (29), home runs (10), and total bases (64) in a single postseason.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked about Randy's postseason, he said: “Arozarena’s accomplishments were more impressive given that he had no previous experience against many of the pitchers.”
Randy made his Major League debut with the Cardinals on Aug. 14, 2019. Over 19 games with the Cardinals, Arozarena hit .300 in 20 at-bats. A couple of Rays scouts wrote reports on the Cuban outfield and later the Rays traded for him, giving up their top pitching prospect at the time. The top outfield prospect wasn’t able to make his Rays debut until Aug. 30 because of a positive Coronavirus test. Randy was asked how he stayed active during his quarantine he said, he loaded up on chicken and rice, because that was the only thing he knew how to make, and did 300 push-ups a day.
Regular Season in Review. Arozarena played only in 23 regular season games which are due to his positive coronavirus test at the start of the season. But, that positive coronavirus test helped him gain 15 pounds of pure muscle. Despite Randy's limited season, he took the league by storm batting .281 with 7 home runs in only 23 games with the Rays.
Randy’s .439 wOBA puts him in the 99th percentile in the entire MLB which is a true testament to Arozarena’s offensive value. His .641 SLG% and .359 ISO puts him in the 100th percentile in the entire MLB. This measures a player’s raw power along with slugging percentage.
Randy played only a handful of regular season games, but he continued his impressive regular season into the postseason where it matters most.
Final thoughts: I wouldn’t expect Arozarena to hit as he did in the postseason all next season, simply no-one does, but I do expect him to be in the Rays top half of the lineup for the whole season.
Arozarena has 81 career regular season at-bats, postseason at-bats do not count toward rookie eligibility, and the Rays did not call him up from the alternate site until Aug. 30, so he hasn’t exceeded the service time threshold, therefore, yes, Randy will be considered a rookie heading into the 2021 season. Scary. (Dylan Loucks - Nov. 15, 2020)
Nov 24, 2020: Arozarena was arrested in Mexico in November for allegedly trying to abduct his daughter from his ex-wife. He addressed the situation with reporters.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Arozarena said the incident stemmed from a "miscommunication" with his daughter's mother and it has since been resolved. Randy's ex-wife told a judge that she did not want to press charges and Randy was released two days after he was arrested. (Erin Walsh - Updated 2/24/21)
Sept 8-11, 2021; Randy was on the paternity list.
Oct. 3, 2021: Randy joined the 20 HR-20 Steal club.
2021 Season: Arozarena finished with a .308/.389/.547 line in the second half. He’s the only rookie to finish with a 20-20 season to go along with his final .274/.356/.459 line. His 243 total bases put him one spot behind India and he was fourth among all rookies with his .815 OPS.
The Tampa Bay Rays outfielder was named the 2021 American League Rookie of the Year.
2022 Season: Appearing in nearly every game for the Rays, R.A.N.D.Y. put up only the second 20/30/40 season in baseball in the last five years, and the first since Mookie Betts accomplished 20 HR, 30 SB, and 40 2B in 2018, making him a finalist for the Silver Slugger award in the American League.
Randy made the move from his preferred left to right field to accommodate the addition of David Peralta at the trade deadline, and his 114 Max Exit Velo was in the top 6% of the league and helped push the Rays into the playoff run with a 197 wRC+ in August. (Daniel Russell@d_russ - Nov 8, 2022)
Arozarena decided to play for Team Mexico in the 2023 WBC. Although he was born in Cuba, Randy lived in Mérida, Mexico, after defecting from the country, and played in the Mexican League for the Toros de Tijuana, and his daughter was born in Mexico. He became a Mexican citizen just last year so can now represent the country.
Throughout his career, he is well-known for using various gimmicks like wearing masks, lucky charms, and making poses. One such move was when he wore a Mistico mask in the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
Randy believes in lucky charms and the power of good luck that it can bring down on people. He believes that the Mistico mask consists of "mystical magic" that would help his team win the match. Wearing a Mistico mask helped Randy and his teammates beat Great Britain in a 2-1 score. However, he also believes that wearing such masks also helps him to have fun in the game.
"Baseball gives you great moments like the one I'm experiencing in the Classic with Mexico, so it's happiness and it's a new celebration." added the 28-year-old. Randy's Mistico mask also got him praise from the wrestler himself who commended him for his admirable performance in the World Baseball Classic.
Arozarena was unanimously selected to the All-World Baseball Classic Team, which was announced after Japan beat Team USA in the championship game. He hit .450 (9-for-20) with six doubles, a homer, nine RBIs, eight runs and more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) in six games for Mexico before it was eliminated by Japan.
Arozarena also made arguably the two most stunning defensive plays of the entire tournament: a leaping catch in front of the wall in Mexico’s quarterfinal victory over Puerto Rico at loanDepot Park in Miami, then a breathtaking (yet still casual) home run robbery against Japan.
After arriving in Mexico on a small boat from Cuba, Arozarena quickly became deeply connected to his new home. It was in Mexico where he and his ex-girlfriend welcomed their first daughter, Lia Antonella, into the world.
Since then, Arozarena's family has continued to grow with his wife Cenelia Pinedo Blanco, with whom he has a daughter, Alaia. Cenelia also has two daughters from previous relationships, which have become as much his daughters as his biological ones.
Together, the family passionately enjoys life, while also supporting Arozarena throughout his Major League career.
On November 13, 2020, Randy and his wife, Cenelia Pinedo Blanco, married at the Kantoyna Ranch near Mérida. While she remains rather private, there are some pieces of information about her online.
Cenelia is from Cartagena de Indias, a Colombian city on the Caribbean coast. In 2017 she earned her bachelor’s degree from Colombia’s National Open University in Bogota, Colombia. (Lyndon Suvanto - Mar 17, 2023)
July 2016: The Cardinals signed Arozarena for $1.2 million, via scout Ramon Garcia. He's a potential bargain.
Jan. 9, 2020: The Cardinals traded outfielders José Martínez and Arozarena, plus a Competitive Balance Round A Draft pick, to the Rays. The Cardinals received lefthander Matthew Liberatore, the Rays’ fourth-ranked prospect, along with catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez and a Competitive Balance Round B draft pick.
- Jan 13, 2023: Randy and the Rays avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year deal worth $4.1 million.
|Birth City:||Havana, Cuba|
|Draft:||2015 - Free agent - Out of Cuba|
|2014||-15||Cuba: Pinar Rio||74||285||3||15||6||36||37||.412||.419||.291|
|2017||Two||Team: PB - SPR||121||428||72||114||32||4||11||49||18||7||40||87||.346||.437||.266|
Arozarena's electric hands and bat speed allow him to catch up to fastballs up in the zone, and he’s gotten strong enough to do damage. He has solid pitch recognition skills, and his bat-to-ball ability has stood out for years through a long track record of hitting for average and getting on base.
With a quick bat and aggressive approach, Arozarena has no problems making consistent contact from the right side of the plate. The quality of said contact was considerably better in 2019, as Arozarena hit fewer ground balls, improved his fly-ball rate and showed greater aptitude for hitting to all fields en route to career highs in average (.344), home runs (15) and slugging (.571).
Some evaluators believe Arozarena will tap into even more power, albeit mostly to his pull-side, in the coming years as he continues to tighten his approach, and the fact that he trimmed his strikeout rate by nearly 3 percent last season was a step in the right direction. (Spring 2021)
Arozarena takes some massive swings, but there’s a method to it—his swing gets bigger in advantageous counts. (J.J. Cooper - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
Randy has a 55 grade hit tool and 60 grade power.
Randy is an energetic spark plug with tools, but he is still learning to take consistent at-bats. He separates balls from strikes and drives the ball gap-to-gap when he connects. He is extremely aggressive and prone to over-swinging, which results in lots of whiffs against breaking stuff and inconsistent quality of contact. His pure bat speed and feel for the zone make him a potentially average hitter. (Kyle Glaser - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2020)
Randy has a quick, simple compact righthanded stroke. He has a quick bat with a line-drive approach and occasional pull-side power. He keeps his bat in the hitting zone for a long time. That allows Randy to make a high rate of contact, driving the ball to all fields.
He is not a big power threat, but expect him to grow into 10-15 homers per season. His value comes from a high on-base percentage. He has leadoff hitter ability, hitting a bevy of doubles.
Randy also shoots balls to the gaps, can lay down a bunt, and works pitchers for a walk.
He needs to learn to play within himself, tending to be reckless and take wild swings. (Spring, 2019)
- Randy has sharp plate discipline. He draws a lot of walks with his keen batting eye.
Arozarena lines the ball all over the yard, with power to both gaps. He has quick-twitch athleticism.
Randy profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter.
2019 Season: Arozarena has long impressed evaluators with his athleticism and loud tools on the field, but it wasn’t until the 2019 season that the 24-year-old outfielder began to harness his talent.
After batting .344/.431/.571 with 15 homers (career high) and 25 doubles between Double-A and Triple-A, Arozarena made his big league debut on Aug. 13 and proceeded to hit .300 with one homer in 20 at-bats down the stretch. Randy's FB+LD rate on BIP (44.9 percent) in the Minors was almost a five percent upgrade compared to his 2018 campaign. The same goes for the reduction in his ground-ball rate. And he demonstrated a more selectively aggressive approach while trimming his strikeout rate from 20.3 to 17.8 percent.
2020 Season: Arozarena is coming off a Rays debut season in which he batted .281/.382/.641 in 23 games before upping those numbers to .377/.442/.831 during an unforgettable October run to the World Series.
Randy played mostly left and center field in 2014-2015 in Cuba, with Pinar Del Rio. He also got some action at second and third base.
Arozarena is an above-average runner who is aggressive on the base-paths, often to a fault. Those wheels also enable him the ability to play all three spots, although he's a cleaner fit at the corners and has the necessary arm strength for right field. And while he currently profiles as more of bench outfielder, Arozarena also possesses more untapped potential than most players entering their age-25 season, with some evaluators viewing him as an everyday player if it all clicks. (Spring 2021)
Arozarena adequately plays all three outfield positions with his plus athleticism and average 50 grade defense. And his arm is an above-average 55 on the 20-80 scale.
Arozarena has the quick-twitch athleticism for center field. But all three outfield spots could all be options for Randy, with scouts split on where he fits best.
- Randy plays defense with some flair.
Randy is a plus-plus runner, grading 70 on the scouting scale for his speed.
Arozarena can be reckless on the bases and is prone to running into outs. (Spring, 2020)
July 6, 2017: Infield popups have turned into hits just 0.4 percent of the time in the Majors this season, but don't tell that to Cardinals prospect Randy Arozarena.
Playing for the Springfield Cardinals in Double-A, Arozarena popped up a ball to the right of the pitcher's mound, and when the dust settled, he was standing safely on third base.
Arozarena's popup was routine, but with all four Midland RockHounds infielders congregating around the ball, first baseman Viosergy Rosa took a late lunge, and the ball grazed off his glove.
Arozarena was nearing second when the ball landed, and he noticed nobody was covering second or third base. St. Louis' No. 15 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, Arozarena is known for his plus speed and easily navigated the bases without a chance for Midland to throw him out. (Ben Weinrib -MLB.com)
In 2020 with the Rays, Arozarena got caught stealing 9 times in 13 attempts.
- Oct. 7, 2021: Arozarena became the first player to steal home in a postseason game since 2016.
July 23, 2020: The Rays placed Arozarena on the Minor League COVID-19 injured list after he tested positive.
Aug 6-12, 2021: Randy was on the 7-day IL due to the COVID-19 protocol for close contact.