Arraez is pronounced: ARISE.
Luis learned how to hit when his father strung a baseball from the ceiling when he was just 3 years old.
“He said, ‘Are you hitting lefthanded or right?’“ Arraez recalled. “I was righthanded, but I wanted to hit lefthanded because (fellow Venezuelan) Endy Chavez, who played with the Mets, batted that way. So I swung and swung and swung that way. I still practice my swing every day.” (Phil Miller - Baseball America - April 2019)
November 21, 2013: Luis signed with Twins' scout Jose Leaon for $40,000 as a 16-year-old free agent, out of Venezuela.
Scouts seemed to focus only on Luis' deficiencies, rather than the fact he has a great bat.
"His (run) times weren’t great, his (batting practice) doesn’t blow you away, so he wasn’t a big shot. Teams passed on him,” Twins interim GM Rob Antony said in 2016. “We signed him, and he so impressed us in the (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League) last summer, that he skipped Rookie ball this year and went right to (low Class) A ball. He ended up being the catalyst on that team, just a relentless hitter. Now we get calls from other teams about him all the time.”
Best of all, Anton said, is how professional Arraez at-bats are.
“He looks like an ideal two-hole guy, an on-base machine,” Antony said. “Scouts look for guys who do everything well, but some guys have skills so advanced in one area, the rest of it doesn’t matter.” (Phil Miller - Baseball America - 11/4/2016)
In 2016, Luis ran away with the low Class A Midwest League batting title despite being one of the youngest players in the league.
Arraez hit .347/.386/.444 in 114 games. His .347 average has been topped by a Cedar Rapids player just twice since World War II—once by Howie Kendrick (.367 in 2004) and the other by Mike Trout (.362 in 2010).
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Arraez as the 12th-best prospect in the Twins organization. He was at #15 a year later, early in 2018. He was at #11 in the spring of 2019.
Luis is a leader. He has an outgoing personality. He has a lot of energy.
MLB debut (May 13, 2019): After only a week after being promoted to Triple-A Rochester, Arraez was called up for the first time, joining the Twins for their road trip to Seattle and Los Angeles.
At this rate, he might soon become a permanent fixture in the dugout.
Arraez started at second base in the Twins’ 3-1 win over the Angels, going 3-for-4 and improving to 5-and-8 (a wild .625) with two walks and a double in his first three Major League games.
All that after smacking a double Saturday in his Twins debut and tacking up a single a day later.
His start ranks favorably in Twins history among rookies, as Arraez is one of nine players to notch five or more hits in the first three career games. And he did it with the fewest amount of plate appearances—10.
His nickname is LA REGADERA. It means “The Sprinkler,” which was given to him by fans in the Venezuelan Winter League because of his penchant for spraying line drives all over the field.
2019 season: The night of July 16 was when Twins fans really knew they had something special. Arraez, a relatively unknown infield prospect, inherited an 0-2 count against Mets fireballer Edwin Díaz and showed off his rare bat control and knowledge of the strike zone as he completed an 11-pitch plate appearance and drew a walk.
Since Arraez first arrived in mid-May as an emergency injury replacement, his batting average has hovered around .350 all season. He’s so confident of the strike zone that he will vigorously shake his head as close pitches sail by, and the Twins like his hitting so much that they’re having him learn left field on the fly to keep his bat in the lineup. Francona compared Arraez to Tony Gwynn earlier this season. That should say it all.
2019 Season: Entering the season, who could have thought that Twins fans would be waiting with bated breath to see whether or not Luis Arraez would be healthy enough to play in the ALDS? The 22-year-old infielder never had the pedigree of a top prospect during his rise through the Twins' organization due to his lack of power ability. But his hit tool was undeniable as he hit at least .309 in every Minor League season. And he was quietly added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
Arraez finally got a chance to show off those hitting skills in the Major Leagues when he received his first callup in mid-May—and boy, did he ever show them off. It took a rash of unforeseen injuries to clear Arraez's path to the Majors, but he crashed the party with seven hits in his first four games, didn't strike out until his eighth game and forced his way into a starting role. He hit .334/.399/.439 in 2019 with more walks (36) than strikeouts (29) and a maturity well beyond his years in his bat-to-ball ability and eye at the plate.
"I know I wasn't expecting for them to call me up as soon as they did," Arraez said. "But they did, and I took advantage of the opportunity. Here we are."
In fact, the Twins placed so much value in Arraez's bat that they even trusted him to learn left field on the fly in order to keep the rookie in the lineup. That's why it was no surprise that it was so important for Minnesota to have Arraez healthy for the ALDS.
"He was an exceptional player, a player who was essentially on base as much as any player in baseball who offered offensively the type of at-bats that almost no player can offer," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He does things that forces pitchers out of their comfort zone and ultimately doesn't just help in his particular at-bat but helps going forward. I truly believe that. I think he helps the players that are coming after him in that lineup. Every time he steps up to the plate, that pitcher leaves that at-bat in a bad place."
What went right in 2019?
In the year of the home run, Arraez was the ultimate throwback player—a line-drive hitter who avoided strikeouts and made contact at all costs. As a rookie with minimal experience against more advanced pitching in Triple-A (16 career games), Arraez led the Twins in batting average (.334) and on-base percentage (.399). He posted the ninth-highest batting average by a 22-year-old in the live-ball era, behind names like Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio and ahead of the likes of Bryce Harper, Hank Aaron and Miguel Cabrera.
The underlying numbers also showed off Arraez's elite bat-to-ball ability. Arraez's 7.9 percent swinging-strike rate was the lowest among all Major Leaguers who swung at 500 or more pitches. His 32.3 percent line-drive rate on batted balls was fourth-best in the Majors among hitters who put at least 300 balls in play.
"He's a 22-year-old guy who's been in the big leagues a matter of months and we're shocked when he strikes out," Baldelli said in September. "Let's just think about that for a second. That's nuts. But then he goes back up there and throws another 20 at-bats up there and you almost say, 'I can't believe what I'm watching.' But now I completely believe what I'm watching."
What went wrong in 2019?
Very little. Arraez sustained his performance across the entire season. And when he did get hurt in the final week of the regular season, sustaining a sprained ankle during a Sept. 28 game in Kansas City, he recovered in time to play in the ALDS a week later. What more can you ask for from a rookie?
"There was some sentiment around, empirically, that Arraez was one of our best hitters against the best pitching in the game from the point he was promoted to the big leagues," general manager Thad Levine said after the season. "We were really reluctant to have that type of player sitting on the sidelines in a short [Division] Series."
The only real hole in Arraez's game was on defense, where he was worth –8 Defensive Runs Saved at second base, the third-worst mark in the Majors among fielders who logged at least 350 innings at the position in 2019. But he did offer versatility to make up for that, as the Twins moved him around to shortstop, third base and left field according to their needs during the season.
Best moment of 2019?
Arraez was one of few Twins to excel in the ALDS against the Yankees, during which he overcame pain in his sprained ankle to still go 5-for-11 at the plate with four doubles. But the true highlight of Arraez's rookie season was a walk. Seriously.
The Twins trailed the Mets, 3-2, in a July 16 contest at Target Field. Jonathan Schoop tweaked his side as he fouled off an 0-2 offering from New York closer Edwin Díaz and was removed from the game, forcing Arraez into the unenviable situation of inheriting an 0-2 count as he stepped into the batter's box, cold, against 99-100 mph fastballs with movement.
The rookie immediately fouled off a 99.8 mph fastball, then again on 98.5 mph and 98.9 mph heaters to stay alive. He took a pair of pitches to even the count, and the crowd started to come to life. He fouled off another and took another ball to run the count full, before he even got a piece of a slider to stay in the at-bat. When the 11th pitch of the plate appearance missed up and away, he earned the one-out walk—and a roaring ovation from his home crowd.
"Pretty incredible," Baldelli said after the game. "You don’t see very many at-bats like that, really against any pitcher, but against a guy like Díaz, you’re certainly not going to see very many." (DH Park - MLB.com - Nov 5, 2019)
In 2020, Luis battled some patellar issues that made him miss 28 games, half the season, but still had a batting average of .321 and a very high BABIP of .356.
2021 Season: Considered one of the Twins’ better long-term pieces, Arraez has seen his play decline in each of his three seasons in the league. Take a look at his slash lines since entering the league:
.334/.399/.439, 124 OPS+
.321/.364/.402, 113 OPS+
.294/.357/.376, 105 OPS+
His defense has improved significantly, but that consistent drop is worrisome for the Twins. Arraez hits for average well and gets on base. That’s it. His value is tied to him being a .300 hitter who gets on at 37% clip. (Otto Johnson - Oct. 5, 2021)
|Birth City:||San Felipe, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2013 - Twins - Free agent - Out of Venezuela|
Arraez has a great hit tool and a little power will come along later. He has incredible hand-eye coordination This is a truly natural hitter with excellent bat control for steady, frequent contact. He hits to all fields with a line-drive, inside-out swing.
Also, Luis is a lefthanded hitting second baseman. He hits for a good average but not much home run power. He hits the ball to the opposite field about half the time. But his power is just pull side.
Luis is learning to handle heat on the inner half of the plate.
“He knows what he’s doing with the bat in his hands,” said first-year Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who has been impressed with Arraez’s first big league camp, particularly his hustle during workouts and his mastery at the plate.
Arraez, whose crouch in the batter’s box squeezes his strike zone, has nearly as many walks as strikeouts in his career.
“He looks like he’s played in the big leagues already,” Baldelli said. (Spring, 2019)
Luis is the type of hitter that Cedar Rapids hitting coach Brian Dinkelman appreciates.
"He's got the kind of swing that gives him a chance every time up," Dinkelman said in 2016. "It's short and helps him use all fields well. He's got good strike zone awareness and puts together good at-bats. He'll find his pitch to hit and when he does, he won't miss it. When you do that with consistency and hit the ball hard, you're gonna hit .300.
"Arraez consistently has the same approach, has good at-bats, and makes solid contact. He's just so consistent all of the time. Hopefully, he'll develop even more strength as he gets into his 20s."
Luis has always manifested excellent plate discipline.
April 2020: When you're a rookie with half a season of service time under your belt and Terry Francona is publicly comparing you to Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew, you're probably doing all right with your hit tool. As for us, let's hold off on putting the 23-year-old Arraez next to some of the greatest contact hitters of all time for now, but let's also acknowledge the phenomenal rookie season he had in 2019. That year, he strayed from the power-hitting, high-strikeout trend of modern baseball to hit .334/.399/.439 with more walks (36) than strikeouts (29).
Two factors play into that: Arraez's discerning eye at the plate and his extreme bat control. Arraez's 24.3 percent chase rate (percent of swings that came outside of the zone) wasn't elite but still within the top quartile of hitters, and more importantly, he coupled that with the lowest whiff rate in the Majors (7.9 percent) of any hitter with at least 600 swings. That ability was why players had been hearing the rumblings about the kid that hit at least .309 in every Minor League season before Arraez was even up in the Majors putting up those numbers before their eyes with a seamless transition to the game's highest level. Arraez might not hit too many balls with authority, but there are few hitters in the Majors that have his bat-to-ball and pure hitting ability. –Do-Hyoung Park
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Luis's career Major League stats were a .331 batting average, 4 home runs and 145 hits with 41 RBI in 438 at-bats.
Luis flashes impressive leather at second base, on occasion. He is very steady defensively. His feet work well around the bag.
Arraez makes up for his fringe-average 50 grade defense with good soft hands. And he positions himself for success.
- Luis has a below-average, 45 grade arm. And he is not very quick.
- In 2021 for the Twins, Arraez played second base, third base, and left field. (Baseball-Reference.com - Dec 2021)
Luis has 45 speed on the 20-80 scale.
“He’s not really fast enough to steal a lot of bases,” Twins interim GM Rob Antony said, “but you don’t have to steal if you start on second base.”
2017: Arraez had his season end when he tore the ACL in his right knee when he awkwardly tripped over first base while beating out a double-play grounder.
April 5-19, 2018: Luis was on the DL.
Sept 28, 2019: Arraez was carted off the field at Kauffman Stadium following the seventh inning of the 4-3 win over the Royals after a collision. Initial tests revealed a sprained right ankle. The club did not offer a potential timeline for his return.
Though Arraez was clearly distraught as he was removed from the game, he was laughing with his teammates and seemed in generally good spirits in the clubhouse following the win, though he could not move around without the aid of crutches.
Oct 1, 2019: MRIs revealed only a Grade 1 sprain—the least severe variety—of Arraez's right ankle, and the 22-year-old appears to be making progress in his recovery.
Sept 9-26, 2020: Luis was on the IL with left knee tendinitis.
Sept 22, 2020: Arraez sustained a mild left ankle sprain when he rolled the ankle during a rundown in an intrasquad game at the alternate training site in St. Paul, MN. His recovery will be delayed by several days, with no concrete timetable yet set for his ramp-up and eventual return to the team.
"We’re going to get him back on his feet in the next few days and just see how he responds," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It’s hard to give an exact timeline on him at this moment. It doesn’t seem like a major ankle sprain, but he did roll his ankle."
May 4-10, 2021: Luis was on the IL with concussion.
May 26-June 14, 2021: Luis was on the IL with right shoulder strain.
July 21-31, 2021: Luis was on the IL with right knee strain. Arraez injured the leg on a play in left field during the fourth inning of the game against the White Sox when he slipped while attempting to catch an eventual José Abreu triple. An MRI revealed a minor strain of the soleus muscle in Arraez's right leg, Baldelli said.
"It’s when he’s going to be able to sprint and when he’s going to be able to be on his feet, change directions and run the way he’s going to need to run if we’re going to put him in a game," Baldelli said. "That’s going to tell us more."