There is something about Cuban baseball players that can reach into the imagination. Perhaps it is due to their general inaccessibility, or the mystique that surrounds such players, that causes those who leave the island nation to be considered potential building blocks for a franchise. Yet, with that mystery comes risk. For every Yoenis Cespedes or Aroldis Chapman, there are players such as Leslie Anderson or Larry Rodriguez.
Feb 21, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Noel Arguelles (45) poses for a picture during photo day at the Royals Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
In Noel Arguelles, the Royals felt that they had one of those franchise changing players. At 19 years old, and with a fastball that touched 94 MPH, Arguelles was expected to develop into a solid piece for the Royals rotation. He certainly looked the part during his first season stateside, producing a 4-5 record with a 3.20 ERA, striking out 64 batters against only 24 walks in 104 innings pitched. It appeared as though the Royals investment might, someday, pay off.
Instead, Arguelles went in the complete opposite direction. He lost his command, walking 122 batters in 196.1 innings over the following two seasons. Those struggles followed him to the Arizona Fall League, prompting the Royals to remove Arguelles from the 40 man roster. Unsurprisingly, he went unclaimed, allowing the Royals to keep him in the minors.
Now, in 2014, those problems appear to have gotten worse. Noel Arguelles is making Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel look like Greg Maddux, having walked 19 batters in 12.1 innings of work. Arguelles has also uncorked four wild pitches and given up 20 hits. That combination has led to a 14.59 ERA and a 3.162 WHiP for Arguelles thus far this season. Even a pitching machine could produce better numbers.
At this point, it is probably time for the Royals to put an end to the misery. Arguelles has not displayed any signs of improving, or getting close to being the same pitcher he was when he made his debut stateside. The Royals investment in Arguelles has now become a sunk cost. Any reasonable expectation that he will, somehow, put everything together has passed.
Noel Arguelles has gone from an exciting prospect to someone that is somehow taking up a roster spot in the minor leagues. It is time for the Royals to cut their losses and move on from Arguelles.