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Interview with Eric Arce: Turning Dreams Into Reality

Interview with Eric Arce: Turning Dreams Into Reality

August 18, 2011

Photo by Chuck Welch of Lakeland Local

Eric Arce was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 25th round of the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft.  Currently playing for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, Eric has posted a .277 batting average, with a .449 on-base percentage (3rd in GCL), and .620 slugging percentage (1st in GCL).  His 12 home runs currently leads the GCL.  Eric was grateful enough to share his thoughts and give JaysProspects.com readers an inside look at his path to becoming a part of the Toronto Blue Jays.

When the 2011 draft rolled along, it was familiar grounds for Eric.  The previous year, Eric had been drafted by the Blue Jays in the 27th round, but did not sign.  Eric explains, “In 2010, it was a choice between going to college and going pro. My dream school was always Florida State University and they offered me a baseball scholarship. I decided to go to college instead of going pro then because I didn’t want to second guess myself after. After going to FSU, I realized my heart was in pro ball and so I chose to go back in the draft. When the Jays redrafted me this year, I couldn’t have been happier.”

Although he has yet to speak with Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos since signing, Eric praises Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting Andrew Tinnish, mentioning, “All of my dealings were with Andrew Tinnish. AT is a great guy. He treated me with professionalism and respect throughout the entire process.”  Tinnish is known to put a big emphasis on character when drafting, so it is no surprise that Arce’s work-ethic, competitiveness and integrity caught the eye of the Blue Jays scouting team, and pursued Arce for a second straight year.

As a high school baseball player at Lakeland High School, Arce was a catcher.  One of the pitchers on his staff was current Dunedin Blue Jays prospect Drew Hutchison.  “I did catch Drew during his senior year at Lakeland High and I knew then he was on his way to great things. Drew was always a clutch guy and a hard worker. He had some real good stuff in high school and always hit his spots. I’m happy and proud that he’s doing so well.” 

While one day we could see Arce and Hutchison reunited at a higher level, Arce will likely not be behind the plate receiving.  Arce mentions, “I had a great time playing the catcher position in high school. It kept me in the game all the time.  But it’s a really hard position and you get pretty banged up back there. When the Jays drafted me, they gave me an opportunity to learn a new position and I’m enjoying that as well. I get to see the game from a different angle and I’m excited about challenging myself in this position.“  Arce has played 27 games of left field this season with 44 putouts and no errors.  He also has been the designated hitter in the other games he has started.

When asked about what area of his game he would like to improve, Arce noted, “I also want to continue working hard on learning my new position, improve my defensive skills and continue to work on getting bigger, stronger and faster every day. I’m fortunate to work with a great coaching staff who really care about player development and have given me the opportunity to get better.” 

Touted by some as one of the best baseball players to come out of Central Florida, Arce has a mixture of tools when at the plate.  The left handed hitting Arce has hit for power, but also has a GCL leading 35 walks.  “I’d say my biggest strength is my hitting ability and my ability to recognize pitches and drive them. I’m very patient at the plate and always looking for my pitch.  I kind of have a Lead-Off hitters’ mentality because I led off some in High School.  Sometimes that can hurt because if you walk a lot you tend to strike out some as well because I’m always deep in the count trying to make the pitcher work but since I have some power, I have to work on finding a happy medium.   I only got 10 at bats at Florida State before I left and had not played baseball all Spring  so this has really been an adjustment period for me.”  The adjustment period seems to be over as Arce has become one of the most feared hitters in the GCL, batting cleanup for the Blue Jays.

While growing up in Florida, Arce had some big influences in his life, which allowed him to pursue a baseball career. “My biggest baseball influences would have to be Pudge Rodriguez, Roberto Alomar and my Dad.   Pudge and Alomar because of their dedication to the game and how they played the game. And my Dad because of the time he spent teaching me the game. Also, a special mentor in my life was former Lakeland High School Coach Mike Campbell. He pushed us to be better, to be disciplined and he wouldn’t let us fail.” Arce’s faith also plays a role in his life.  “I do believe in God and I was raised in a Christian home. My faith in God has really helped me overcome some tough times and it’s what keeps me grounded. I know that whatever success I have or will ever receive is because of what God has given me and I never take that for granted.”

We all know that baseball isn’t everything, and during his spare time, Eric enjoys some quiet time with friends and family.  While he may be a fantastic baseball player, he will likely never win any Angler of the Year awards.  “I like to spend time with family and friends. My brother, Dad and I like to go fishing even though we spend most of our time throwing bait at the fish.”

The professional baseball career of Eric Arce has just begun, but it has started off with a bang.  With a combination of superb hitting skills, an unquestionable work-ethic and willingness to improve, Arce should have no problem climbing the Blue Jays organizational ladder, in hope of one day stepping foot on the Rogers Centre’s turf.

Eric Arce Quick Facts:

Favourite current MLB player: Jose Bautista
Favourite non-baseball pro sports team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Current Roommate: Was Dalton Pompey but now Jorge Navarette.
Favourite pre-game meal: Fresh Fruit and some Protein
Biggest moment in your baseball career: So far..signing with the Toronto Blue Jays and being selected MVP of WWBA in 2009. I do hope that this is the beginning and my biggest moment is yet to come.
Favourite video game: MLB the show
Favourite movie: Anything with Adam Sandler or Will Farrell
Favourite band/artist: Lecrae – Christian Rap Artist

If I weren’t playing baseball: I would probably want to be a hitting coach or work with animals and help animal causes.

For more insight and wisdom from Eric, you can follow him on twitter via his handle, @EArce813

JaysProspects.com would like to thank Eric Arce for his time and wish him the best of luck in the future.