In a season in which rookie Anthony Volpe established himself as the shortstop in New York, it was another shortstop who emerged as one of the organization’s top prospects.
The Yankees signed Roderick Arias for $4 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2022. His pro debut in the Dominican Summer League that year was delayed by a thumb injury, and he struggled when he did get in the lineup and hit .194/.379/.370 in 32 games.
This year, the 6-foot-2, switch-hitting Arias took enormous strides in the Florida Complex League before another hand injury ultimately ended his season in late July. He hit .267/.423/.505 with six home runs and 17 stolen bases in 27 games.
So what changed for the 18-year-old?
“I think the biggest thing, especially for young players in the D.R., is a lot of their lives are kind of this showcase baseball where you’re just more or less trying to put on a show and get signed,” Yankees hitting coordinator Joe Migliaccio said.
“Generally, we see a lot of similar trends at the lowest levels. For example, guys do not swing at non-fastballs a lot. They’re very passive against non-fastballs, and that was one of Roderick’s flaws at the time.”
Migliaccio said that’s why the Yankees focus on contact and swing decisions for hitters in the Rookie-level complex leagues.
“We know that over time, guys are going to get bigger, stronger and faster with our strength and conditioning program. Contact quality will come, but I do think we speed that up, based on how we teach things.
“So, for him, it was building that foundation of, ‘When do I swing? What do I swing at?’ And then kind of fine-tuning the swing itself in the cage.”
Migliaccio said that Arias’ contact quality was five times the FCL average and that his swing decisions have also vastly improved.
“It’s a simple load, and it’s a super powerful unload,” Migliaccio said. “When he makes contact, he absolutely destroys the baseball.”