Gabriel Arias’ Balanced Skill Set Could Lead To A Future In Cleveland

Five players started games at shortstop for the Guardians in 2021, led by Amed Rosario (118 games) and Andres Gimenez (36).

Four of the organization’s Top 10 Prospects are shortstops. Three of those four are on the 40-man roster, including Gabriel Arias, a 22-year-old who spent last season with Triple-A Columbus.

Cleveland acquired Arias from the Padres as part of the 2020 trade for Mike Clevinger.

During spring training in 2021, Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti described Arias as “very consistent defensively, a really talented defender, with good infield actions, and a really strong arm that came as advertised.”

The Guardians felt confident enough to challenge Arias offensively.

After spending 2020 at the alternate training site, Arias made the jump from High-A with the Padres in 2019 to Triple-A with Cleveland in 2021. He batted .284/.348/.454 with 13 home runs in 115 games, more than holding his own as a young Triple-A regular.

“The approach he showed in spring training was more advanced than we expected,” Antonetti said at the time. “He controlled the count, controlled the strike zone, used the opposite field and demonstrated traits of being a professional hitter. We were really excited about what we saw from him.”

Rosario handled the bulk of Cleveland’s shortstop duties in 2021 and was one of Cleveland’s most productive hitters, but his defense was a little short. Gimenez had much better defensive metrics, but not as much bat.

Arias appears to check all the boxes defensively, while his track record as a hitter is solid but unspectacular. Not to be overlooked in the competition is Tyler Freeman, the organization’s top prospect, who is more bat-over-glove as a shortstop.

The Guardians knew it was going to be a challenge to replace Francisco Lindor. Arias’ defense gives him a chance to be the long-term answer.

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