J.P. Arencibia: 2010 Sleeper or Waiver Wire Fodder?

As we get ready to roll out our early dynasty rankings for 2010, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at J.P. Arencibia, one of the Blue Jays top prospects and a potentially big hitting catcher.  It’s been about a year since we looked at him (click here to view), coming off a year in which he hit .298 with 27 HR and 105 RBI between Single & Double-A, so let’s take a look at how he followed up on it at Triple-A:

466 At Bats
.236 Batting Average (110 Hits)
21 Home Runs
75 RBI
67 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.284 On Base Percentage
.444 Slugging Percentage
.269 Batting Average on Balls in Play

He’s a free swinger and the concerns I had regarding his strikeout rate certainly were exposed at Triple-A, striking out 24.5% of the time (114 strikeouts).  Granted, even with that type of rate he should be able to maintain a higher average than he did, but he was plagued by terrible luck.

Of players with at least 490 plate appearances in the major leagues in 2009, there were only eight who posted a BABIP of .269 or worse, including Ian Kinsler and Jimmy Rollins, two players expected to have big rebounds in 2010.  It’s a safe assumption that his luck will improve, but you still would like to see a significantly better performance in the strikeout department.

Another thing to look at for the right-handed hitter is his ability to hit against right-handed pitchers.  In 2009 he hit just .227 in 352 at bats.  In 2008 it was significantly better, at .301 (though it did come courtesy of a .340 BABIP).  Like his BABIP, you would expect him to be better moving forward.

He can never be counted on as a top fantasy option unless you can expect at least a .260 average from him.  While he should improve, right now, I can’t do that because of the Ks.

The power appears to still be there, but that is slightly misleading.  He had fits and starts all year, hitting eight home runs in both May and August, but just five home runs over the other four months.

He did have 32 doubles on the season, along with a 52.5% flyball rate, so there is reason for some hope.  The doubles correspond to what he did in 2008, where he hit 36 doubles, so there really shouldn’t be a question if there is pop in his bat.

The hope is that he can maintain the power at the higher levels if there is a decrease in his flyball rate.  In 2008 his rate was 46.6%.  There were only three players in the major leagues who posted a flyball rate of at least 52.5%, so the likelihood is that he regresses there.

If he can hit for power with less flyballs, like he did in 2008, that should correspond to a better average.  It’s a lot easier to get lucky on a line drive or find a hole on a groundball, as opposed to when you put the ball in the air.

That’s where his value will ultimately lies, in his ability to continue to hit for power, but not while simply trying to hit the long ball.  If he can do that and prove that he can hit .260-.270 with 20 HR in the major leagues, he is going to be a must use catcher in all formats.

Can he get there in 2010?  We’ll have to wait and see, but he certainly will be starting the year at Triple-A until he proves he can.  As soon as he does, he should be up and given an opportunity in Toronto making him a player to have on all fantasy radars.

For now, his only value really lays in deep keeper leagues and dynasty leagues, but come mid-May that could all change.

What are your thoughts?  Is Arencibia a player you have your eye on?  Do you think he can contribute in 2010?

To read the previous article, click here.

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7 comments

  1. Turk99 says:

    I picked him up in my minor league draft last year. I like him. Of course, two years ago I said the same thing about a certain minor league catcher for the Mariners who had power. That didnt work out too well.

  2. MJ says:

    sorry. any minor leaguer that struggles to keep his oba over .300 will NEVER make it at the next level. This guy has been one of the most over-rated players for the past few seasons. Outside of his power, he is terrible.

  3. Turk99 says:

    MJ…a power hitting catcher hitting .220 is better than most catcher options on draft day…especially when you have a two-catcher format.

  4. MJ says:

    Our league uses the runs created format (in simple terms: oba X slg X ab’s). So power without oba is not real good. At best he projects as a .220 avg, .275 oba, .400 slg catcher. A catcher with an ops under .700 is not someone I would ever consider. Unless he can learn to draw a lot of walks to boost that oba, he’s not worth consideration in our league or in a lot of other leagues too.

  5. Jimmy says:

    Yeah, the OBP is terrible, but a catcher with ANY power potential has to be watched. There just isn’t a lot of power available at the catcher spot.

  6. Jim says:

    nwo that his kidneys are fixed and eyes are corrected, I’ll expect him to resume his hitting. Which he has done throughout his career.

  7. tim says:

    He has not done a thing since his first game. I think JP Arencibia ended up with an average of 147.

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