Perhaps no player represents the Idaho Falls Chukars’ poor second half more than Ricky Aracena.
Through Sunday, the shortstop had hit .183 since the first half ended. His on-base percentage dropped from .320 to .286, and his slugging percentage fell from .379 to .305.
Aracena’s biggest area of struggle this season has been defense, where he committed 38 errors going into Monday’s game.Missoula shortstop Jasrado Chisholm is second in the Pioneer League with 24 errors.
But errors only tell half the story. Aracena has a cannon of a right arm that’s rarely inaccurate (MLB.com ranked his arm a 65 on the 20 to 80 scouting scale). He’s also shown good range thanks to his above average speed. His biggest issue is corralling routine ground balls.
Aracena signed with the Kansas City Royals for $850,000 as a 16-year-old in 2014. He was MLB.com’s No. 24 international prospect at the time, and he’s the 29th-ranked prospect in Kansas City’s system in the website’s most recent list.
“Aracena has the quickness and range to play shortstop, and his very strong arm allows him to make all of the necessary throws,” MLB.com’s scouting report says. “He exhibits good instincts in all facets of the game and earns praise for his makeup as well.”
Aracena recently talked with the Post Register about his defense, signing with the Royals and his favorite MLB player. Chukars bench coach Ramon Castro translated.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
I’ve noticed good arm strength and accuracy from you this season. Is that something you would say, too?
“I haven’t been good with defense, but I try every time to throw perfect to the base. I think it’s becoming better.”
What has been the main reason for the errors this season?
“The errors I make are because I’m not ready, not focused. It’s a mentality.”
Do you think you’ll be able to fix your error troubles going forward?
“I’ve been more focused, I’ve been more relaxed from making nice plays. I’m continuing to work.”
Do you feel like you’ve improved as a defender this season?
“I try to work hard all the time, whether I make an error or not. There are a lot of things I can do better.”
How did you get noticed by MLB scouts as a teenager?
“I was training in the Dominican Republic. Some friend told a scout with the Kansas City Royals, ‘I’ve got this guy here, so come down here and watch him.’ I was good when I signed. I was running good, threw good to the base and hit good. That’s why the Kansas City Royals signed me.”
How did you react when you signed?
“I was excited to sign with the Kansas City Royals. I was very happy coming to the states. I’m working hard and trying to go to the big leagues.”
Did earning that much money surprise you?
“I was looking for more money. Another team wanted to give me less money. I wanted to stay in Kansas City because I knew the Royals give a lot of opportunities.”
Who is your favorite MLB player or players?
“He plays hard every day. He plays hard, he plays exciting, he enjoys the game.”
DOZIER MOVES UP
Former Chukar Hunter Dozier was promoted from Triple-A Omaha to Kansas City on Friday. The Royals made room for Dozier on their 40-man roster by placing pitcher Luke Hochevar on the 60-day disabled list, according to the Kansas City Star.
Dozier hit .294/.357/.506 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with 15 home runs in 433 plate appearances this summer with the Storm Chasers. Before Friday, the third baseman was considered the Royals’ top minor league prospect in the minor leagues, per MLB.com.
Dozier, 24, played for the 2013 Pioneer League champion Chukars. He hit .303/.403/.509 with seven homers that season.
2015 CHUKARS MOVE ON
The Post Register ran an interview last month with former Chukar Josh Banuelos, who was released by the Kansas City Royals in June. But he wasn’t the only 2015 I.F. player who was released since last summer. Here are the others (their 2015 stats with the Chukars are in parentheses):
LHP Tripp Davis (Pioneer League all-star; 2.81 ERA, 30 Ks, 11BB in 32 IP)
LHP Cruz Guevara (5.30 ERA, 37 Ks, 17 BBs in 37.1 IP)
OF Brawlun Gomez (.231/.279/.447, team-leading 11 HRs in 208 ABs)
C Pedro Gonzalez (.328/.403/.552 in 58 ABs)
LHP Nick Green (3.52 ERA, 15 Ks, 7 BBs in 15.1 IP)
LHP Hunter Haynes (7.04 ERA, 27 Ks, 24 BBs in 47.1 IP)
RHP Carter Hope (6.07 ERA, 28 Ks, 12 BBs in 56.1 IP)
OF Riley King (1 for 3 in one game)
C Luis Lara (.320/.393/.320 in 25 ABs)
INF Logan Nottebrook* (.252/.341/.470 in 33 ABs)
C Kyle Pollock (.280/.348/.464 in 125 ABs)
RHP Alberto Rodriguez (3.38 ERA, 21 Ks, 13 BBs in 29.1 IP)
LHP Brandon Thomas (3.35 ERA, 34 Ks, 25 BBs in 45.2 IP)
LHP Ian Thompkins (4.44 ERA, 25 Ks, 20 BBs in 2.41 IP)
1B Joe Dudek
From Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, Dudek notched at least two hits in each of the four games. Through Sunday, Dudek had gone 17 for 35 (.486) with three home runs, five doubles and 11 walks in his last 11 games.
C MJ Sanchez
Sanchez has been saddled with the backup catcher role thanks to Meibrys Viloria, so his playing time has been sparse. When Sanchez has played, he’s struggled.
Through Sunday, the 22-year-old had played in nine games since the start of August. He went 2 for 28 (.071) with one walk in those contests. He’s hitting .214/.291/.229 on the season.