The Houston Astros signed right-hander named Harold Arauz out of the Panama after he was named the MVP of the Dominican Prospect League All-Star Game in May of 2011. The Astros gave Arauz a $300,000 signing bonus and held him out of action until the 2012 Dominican Summer League, where he pitched for two seasons as a member of the Astros minor league system.
In 2014, Arauz finally came to the states and pitched in both the Appalachian League and the Gulf Coast League - both Rookie Leagues - and gained some notice when he posted a combined 3.23 ERA, striking out 68 hitters in 53 innings and posting a 1.06 WHIP. Had he continued on that path, the Astros might not have been so quick to include him in the Ken Giles deal in December of 2015, but he was coming off of a season where he posted a 5.75 ERA in Low-A ball and his BABIP was a horrific .404, meaning he had to strike hitters out, or he was in trouble. At the time, it looked like Arauz would potentially work as a reliever, but even at the lower levels of the minors, just didn't have enough weapons to be a starter. During the 2015 season, Arauz posted an 0-5 mark with a 7.23 ERA in 10 starts, but out of the bullpen, had a 1.88 ERA in a small sample size of just five relief appearances.
Initially, Arauz wasn't a part of the deal for Giles. If you remember, that trade took on a couple of different scenarios before it was finally completed. The initial deal had Giles going to Houston for outfielder Derek Fisher, Thomas Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer and Vince Velasquez. When all was said and done, Houston balked at giving up Fisher, but included Mark Appel and Arauz, while the Phillies added infielder Jonathan Arauz to the deal. Harold Arauz - no relation to Jonathan - was a lesser valued prospect than Jonathan Arauz, in part because of the struggles that he faced the season before in Low-A ball.
The Phillies though saw something that they liked in Arauz. His fastball had gained a little velocity, but was still just a tick over 90 and his secondary pitches were all a work in progress. The Phillies tinkered with his mechanics a little and sent him back to their Low-A team in Lakewood to see what would happen. The results were good, as Arauz added that extra velocity - he had been just in the upper-80s with Houston - and his secondary pitches started to show a little more life. The results on the mound were plain to see. In 19 starts with the BlueClaws, Arauz was 6-6 and had a 3.44 ERA on the season, striking out 85 batters in 99 innings of work.
There wasn't really any concern over the drop in strikeout rate from the double-digits earlier in his career to just under eight strikeouts per nine last season, because hitters weren't able to tee-off on his pitches the way they had in the past and Arauz saw his BABIP slide down to .267 at Lakewood last season. Arauz also became a groundball machine on the mound.
Arauz has also shown a propensity for getting the better hitters that he faces out at a good clip, with players who ranked in the Top 20 Prospects in baseball hitting just .237 against Arauz in his career.