In general once a player graduates from their rookie status their time being covered on this site comes to an end as I hand them off to Phillies’ fans to hold and to treasure. The purpose of this series is to give them one last send off.
Elvis Araujo was a bit of an unknown coming into the year. The Phillies signed him as a minor league free agent after he spent 7 injury plagued seasons in the Indians’ system. At just 23 years old to start the season, Araujo was expected to be part of the youth moving into the Phillies bullpen this season.
What Was Written Before the Season:
Elvis Araujo – LHP (23)
The Phillies signed the giant minor league free agent to a major league deal, but with 3 remaining minor league options, there is no pressure for him to make the majors immediately. This past year was Araujo’s first year as a full time reliever, and while he still walked plenty of batters, he also started missing more bats. His fastball has been up to 98 and he has a slider that has shown good potential. He was dominant in the VWL where he posted a 1.27 ERA over 21.1 IP while walking 8 and striking out 20. He will compete this spring for a major league spot, but he should go to AAA where he will need to continue the control growth. He has high leverage potential.
What Happened in the Minors:
Stat Line: 9.2 IP 7.45 ERA 13.6 BB% 25.0 K%
Araujo actually struggled in AA over his 9.2 innings before being promoted. His control was all over the place even though he missed some bats. Overall not a lot to make judgements over, it was a surprising short stint in the minors.
What Happened in the Majors:
Stat Line: 34.2 IP 3.38 ERA 12.6 BB% 22.5 K%
Major League Debut: May 5, 2015
Araujo was more solid than dominating in his rookie year. He struggled with command and control, but he missed a decent amount of bats (he increased his K% to 31.6% in the 2nd half), but most importantly he allowed only 1 home run during his time in the majors. Early in the season his fastball was averaging nearly 95 mph, reaching up to 97. By August he had backed it down to 91.7 mph as he worked with the coaching staff to try and find a bit more command (all indications were that the velocity drop was not actually injury related). His season ended prematurely on August 27 due to a groin injury.
Overall Araujo had much more success against left handed batters due to his primarily pitch usage of just his fastball and slider. In August he began to slowly work in his changeup to give him a weapon against right handed batters.
The best part of Araujo’s season happened from July 19 to August 15, a 9 game stretch spanning 9 innings where Araujo didn’t allow a hit. Over that stretch he walked 3 while striking out 10.
Araujo is not going to be as exciting as Jake Diekman, but he can be a serviceable major league reliever (with hints at a bit more). The key will be finding feel for command while ramping back up the velocity. Overall, if he can keep the ball in the park he can be usable guy in the middle of the Phillies’ bullpen for many years. Araujo will only be 24 to start the 2016 season and with the Phillies’ lack of left handed arm, he is almost assured a spot in the opening day bullpen. The Phillies have him under control for six more years, making their offseason investment look very smart.