Lazaro Armenteros was an exciting, but raw, prospect when he signed with the Oakland A’s during the 2016-17 international signing period. Three years later, nothing has changed.
The Oakland A’s thought they had one of the most exciting players in the 2016-17 international signing period when they agreed to a deal with Lazaro Armenteros. They inked him to a bonus of more than $3 million, putting themselves in the penalty for the next two years. But, given his potential, that was well worth the limitations in the following years.
Or so the A’s thought. The outfielder known as Lazarito was an exciting prospect, with all the tools, but was also extremely raw. He had intriguing power/speed potential, but a raw hit tool. However, given his overall athleticism, the belief was that with the right coaching, he could blossom into a star.
Three years later, the profile for Armenteros has not changed. He still intrigues with his power and speed, but those tools remain raw. His hit tool as a whole is still extremely raw, making so that his potential only flashes occasionally.
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His 2019 season was the perfect example of Armenteros lack of development. Playing in the California League, he hit 17 homers and stole 22 bases, showing off those tools. However, he also produced a .222/.336/.403 batting line in his 538 plate appearances, drawing 73 walks while striking out 227 times. Yes, 227 strikeouts in 538 plate appearances.
Last year, Armenteros produced enough wind energy to supply the west coast with electricity. He struck out in 42.2% of his at bats, a number that makes even Adam Dunn and Chris Davis blush. While he had an impressive 13.6% walk rate, his prospect star lost luster with every strikeout.
As of now, Armenteros is still moving through the A’s system as planned. He was going to move slowly, spending a year at each level as he hopefully learned to tap into his potential. And that may still be the case when the 2020 season begins, provided that he can show improvement in his contact rate.
The upper minors are the true testing grounds for prospects. This is where a player can be made or broken. As it stands, unless he improves his contact rate, Lazaro Armenteros may not get the opportunity to prove that he still belongs as one of the Oakland A’s top prospects.