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George Arias

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George Alberto Arias

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George Arias was drafted in the 7th round by the then California Angels in 1993 after hitting 23 homers (2nd in the Pac-10 Conference and in NCAA Division I, behind Ryan McGuire's 26) in his junior year for the University of Arizona. Arias started off in mid-level class A with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and hit just .217/~.303/.399 for the club. Arias was promoted to the Lake Elsinore Storm in 1994 and hit .280/.356/.481 for the team, making the California League All-Star team at third base and tying for third in the Cal League with 23 home runs.

In the 1995 season, George moved up to AA with the Midland Angels, batting .279/~.357/.527. He led the Angels farm system with 104 RBI and led the Texas League in at-bats (520), runs (91), homers (30), RBI and errors at third base (29). He made the All-Star team there as well and was voted as the 6th-best league prospects by TL managers.

Having flown quickly through the Angels' system, George reached the majors in 1996. Arias played 80 games with the Angels in 1996, but struggled, batting .238/.284/.349 with only 6 HR and 28 RBI. He also spent time with the Vancouver Canadians and his line there was .337/~.388/.547.

Arias went on to play with the Angels one more year before being traded to the San Diego Padres in mid-1997 as part of the Rickey Henderson trade. He spent most of the year in AAA, batting a combined .283/~.347/.459 for Vancouver and the Las Vegas Stars.

Arias played with the Padres for two more years, even appearing on the Padres' NLDS roster. Arias showed some promise in his last year with the Padres batting .244/.271/.421 with 7 HR and 20 RBI. Despite this moderate level of success, Arias was let go by the Padres shortly after the end of the 1999. He continued to tear up the minors at times. In 1998, he hit .308/~.362/.651 for Las Vegas, was fourth in the minor leagues in home runs and named the Padres Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America. He drove in 119 runs and was named to his third league All-Star team in five years. In 1999, George batted .284/~.393/.716 in his time with the Stars, homering every 9.5 AB (10 in 95 trips to the plate) and produced 50 runs in 26 games, scoring 30 and driving in 30.

Arias went on to sign with the Orix Blue Wave in 2000. Arias played two years with the Blue Wave, becoming an instant fan favorite. Arias displayed great power with the Blue Wave, hitting 26 HRs and 38 HRs in his first two years with the team. With Japanese teams rarely satisfied with their gaijin players, Arias was let go by the Blue Wave in 2001. Following his departure from the Blue Wave, Arias signed with the Hanshin Tigers, arguely Japan's most popular baseball team at the time. Arias became a bigger success, batting .258/.317/.526 with 32 HR's and 82 RBI in his first year with Hanshin, also seeing himself elected to his first All-Star squad. He was third in the Central League in home runs, though a good distance behind Hideki Matsui (50) and Roberto Petagine (41). He led the CL with 6 sacrifice flies. Arias went on to repeat his performance with another good year in 2003, batting .265/.334/.565 with 38 HR's and 107 RBI and being selected to another All-Star squad. Arias was selected to his only Best Nine squad (by now he had moved to first base) and won his only Gold Glove award in 2003. He helped take the Tigers to the Japan Series for the first time in 18 years, serving as the cleanup hitter and only player with more than 20 homers. He was second to Alex Ramirez in RBI in the Central and third in home runs, two behind Ramirez and Tyrone Woods. Arias' offensive numbers fell in his last year with the Tigers, as he batted only .271/.326/.522 with 25 HR's and 84 RBI. A free swinger, he fanned over 100 times per season in Japan.

After leaving Japan, Arias went on to to sign a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. Arias batted .265 (5-19) with no home runs and one RBI with the Nationals in spring training and was let go. Following that, Arias joined the Tijuana Colts of the Mexican League, batting .303/.384/.566 with 23 HR and 81 RBI and helping lead the team to the second-half title in the northern division after Randall Simon took the opposite voyage, going from Mexico to Japan. Arias started the 2006 season with the Tijuana Colts, driving in 71 runs in 81 games and homering 19 times while batting .280/.354/.520. In late June of that year, he signed with the Yomiuri Giants to fill in for the injured Hiroki Kokubo at third base. The veteran was clear not up to hitting NPB anymore, hitting .167/.219/.300 in 17 games before being sent to ni-gun about a month later and never making it back up to Yomiuri.

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