Noel Arguelles checks in at #9 on the 2010 Kings of Kauffman prospect list.
Who: Noel Arguelles
DOB: 1/12/1990 Cuba
Height: 6’3″ or 6’4″
Acquired: International FA 1/10
~ Baseball America #3a
~ Diamond Futures #6
~ Royals Review #6b
~ The Royal Tower #9a
~ John Sickels C+
~ Scouting Book #5
No Stats Available
Noel agreed to terms with Kansas City on a contract back in early December, but due to visa issues he didn’t actually sign his deal until January 7th. The contract will pay Noel $7 million over the next 5 seasons with the ability to earn up to another $2 million by way of incentives. His presence augments what was already, in my opinion, the most impressive collection of LHP prospects in all of baseball. There is not an organization that can match the Royals group of top-shelf lefty starters that includes Arguelles, John Lamb, Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, and Chris Dwyer.
Of course we have no stats to dissect and we have no real firm scouting reports to work from. Arguelles just turned 20 years old and we have no idea how he will continue to adapt to life in the United States let alone how he will handle pitching in the minor leagues. After reading Sam Mellinger’s piece for the Kansas City Star, I’m encouraged about his future not just because how his pitches grade out but because of things like this that Sam’s article shared with Royals fans everywhere:
"Arguelles is taking one-on-one English lessons, intent on learning as quickly as possible. Sal Artiaga is the Royals’ cultural coordinator and says Arguelles is among the most eager, mature and hard-working players he’s met.Arguelles isn’t much for patience. He wants things now. Convinced he needed to clean up his mechanics, he hired Pedro Martinez’s old pitching coach. When he finishes drills, even mundane ones like pitchers’ fielding practice, he asks anybody who understands Spanish how he did and how he can improve."
Eager, mature, and hard-working are always good characteristics when talking about a guy who just graduated from his teens. Throw those words around when talking about a pitching prospect and I get downright giddy.
When it comes to the specifics of his pitches, we know he throws left handed and features a fastball, curve, and changeup. His fastball sits in the low 90s and tops out at 94. Prior to signing with the Royals his fastball was reaching up to only 89-90 in some sessions, but in others he was throwing in his customary range of 91-94. The drop in velocity in some sessions could be due to a lack of regular work or he could have simply been having a bad day. Either way, as he gets older, he should have no problem throwing heat in the low to mid-90s. His changeup projects to be a plus pitch at the major league level, and his current level of mastery with the pitch will go a long way toward determining how fast he can climb the ranks of the system. The opinion of Noel’s curveball varies but at worst it projects to be an average major league offering. Some believe the curve, like his changeup, has the potential to be an above average or plus pitch. Beyond his arm, Arguelles receives praise for his athleticism and at 20 years old he has a lot of unlocked potential that could be realized as he matures and gets stronger.
As is the case with most pitchers his age, control is the area that needs the most work, but taking a regular turn in a rotation, logging innings, and learning to refine his mechanics will all help his command. There is no question that the raw stuff is there to wind up as a legitimate 2 or 3 starter on a competitive team.
On March 4th, Noel pitched a bullpen session at the Royals spring training complex and Bob Dutton published a short article on the event which included the following:
"“He was out in the outfield shagging (fly balls) the other day,” McClure said. “I went over there and watched, and he catches the ball like he’s a center fielder. He’s very athletic.“Since he wasn’t supposed to throw the ball yet, he just picked it up right-handed and threw it like a right-hander. I couldn’t tell whether he was right-handed or left-handed. I’m serious. I was thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”"
When the Royals landed Arguelles, it sent shockwaves through the Royals blogosphere and fanbase. He joined Aaron Crow, Wil Myers, and Chris Dwyer as 1st round caliber talents that Dayton managed to add to the system in approximately six months. It only added to the excitement that the announcement seemingly came out of nowhere. I was unaware the Royals were even in the running to make him a viable offer and I was not alone. Even though the initial shock has died down, I am still excited and giddy that he signed with the Royals. A very large part of me wanted to rank him higher than number 9 on my list, but I am trying to stay objective and level-headed.
Noel Arguelles will make his professional debut in Wilmington for the high-A Blue Rocks. A strong performance there should earn him a relatively quick promotion to NW Arkansas. Since he is on the 40-man roster by way of his major league contract, the organization will want him to advance through the system quickly to maximize the return on their investment. The phrase “be quick but don’t hurry” seems very applicable to Noel and his future.
If you want to check out some video of Arguelles, the blog Cuban Ball Players has this posted from back in November which came from Kiley McDaniel of Baseball Prospectus.