Friday, July 18, 2014

Flashback Friday: J.P. Arencibia's Big League Debut


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If there's one thing I've learned in the last five years, it's that banking on highly-touted prospects is a dangerous game. They'll lift you up with astronomical expectations, and many times they'll also break your heart.

J.P. Arencibia was no different; he was lauded as the Toronto Blue Jays "catcher of the future", but after three full seasons with the club, the Blue Jays found themselves casting him away and non-tendering him this past winter.

So in honour of his return to Toronto this evening since being non-tendered last winter, this week's Flashback Friday takes a look back at J.P. Arencibia's historic big league debut from August 7th, 2010.

Leading up to Arencibia's eventual call-up, many had been pining for months to bring him up from Las Vegas. Arencibia annihilated the Pacific Coast League in 2010, as was eventually voted as the league's MVP (Randy Ruiz won the 2009 PCL MVP as well).

However, it would soon be discovered that success in the PCL wouldn't necessarily translate into Major League success.

After starting catcher John Buck suffered a laceration to his right thumb, that presented the opening for J.P. Arencibia to fill in as the everyday backstop. Blue Jays fans got their wish in early August of 2010, and off the bat J.P. did not disappoint.

J.P. Arencibia promptly deposited the very first pitch he saw from James Shields into the left field bullpen. His first swing in the majors translated into his first home run.



But he didn't stop there. J.P. followed that up with an opposite field double in his second at bat, a single to left in his third at bat, and then another home run in his fourth at bat. It's interesting to note that J.P. used Jose Bautista's bat in his fourth trip to the plate.

Ultimately, Arencibia finished the day 4 for 5 with a pair of home runs and 11 total bases. Not a bad way to start off your MLB career. And of course after a show like that, J.P. had the blogosphere salivating at the prospect of a young power-hitting catcher.

From Tao of Stieb:
I kid you not when I tell you that watching the highlights, again, more than 12 hours after Arencibia's debut still leaves me with chills.

It was an unforgettable performance for both The Player and the fans, and it's these moments exactly that allow the loyal to dream of better days in the near future.

From Hum and Chuck:
Arencibia had the most magical Jays debut since a certain pitcher was pink, round and efficient. So magical it was historically magically. 4 for 5, 2 homers (I think he'll fit in here) and a triple short of the cycle. "I could never have imagined this, ever." Aw.

And from yours truly:
Aside from maybe Travis Snider, can you recall a player in recent memory that has conjured up this much excitement in a Blue Jays uniform? All it took was one pitch to make his presence felt in the city of Toronto. And you know what? I think it was love at first sight.

Former Blue Jays beat writer extraordinaire Jordan Bastian discovered J.P. Arencibia was actually the first MLB player since 1900 to hit two home runs and collect four hits in his debut.

J.P. was also the first Blue Jays player to hit a home run in his very first Major League at bat since Junior Felix did the same on May 4th, 1989.

It's a cynical way of looking at it, but his first game was essentially the peak of J.P. Arencibia's career. Honestly, I don't think I've ever witnessed a Blue Jays prospect have a rapid and meteoric rise like his, only to be cut from the team just a few years later.

On its own, J.P. Arencibia's big league debut was the stuff that baseball fairytales are made of. Unfortunately, his debut just wasn't a precursor for a legend that would last much longer beyond that.

Image courtesy of Toronto Star

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