Giants surprise Draft experts by taking Arroyo
Team hoping high school shortstop will skip attending Florida
SAN FRANCISCO -- Shortstop Christian Arroyo has so much going for him that he couldn't care less about being considered an unexpected first-round choice by the Giants.
Arroyo, a self-decribed "math geek," graduated from Hernando High School in Brooksville, Fla., as class salutatorian with a grade-point average of 4.4. The other day, he met a 14-year-old half-brother, Julian, for the first time. Thursday, Arroyo's whirlwind of events continued as the Giants selected him 25th overall in the First-year Player Draft.
"It's been a really blessed week," Arroyo said.
Arroyo has other blessings to count. He has verbally committed to attend the University of Florida. College sounded like a legitimate option for him.
Whether it's big enough for Arroyo to spurn the $1,866,500 bonus that's slotted for the Giants' first-round selection remains to be seen.
"An opportunity like this is hard to come by," he acknowledged. "I'm perfectly fine going either way."
Giants scouting director John Barr expressed confidence that Arroyo will head in the direction of professional baseball.
"We feel like we'll be able to come to some agreement," Barr said.
Touted Draft experts disagreed with the Giants on Arroyo's potential. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder hit .524 with 11 home runs in 105 at-bats during his senior season, which was enough for the Giants to make Arroyo the first high school infielder they've drafted with their No. 1 pick since they took third baseman Tony Torcato 19th overall from Woodland (Calif.) High in 1998. Torcato hit .298 in 53 games with the Giants from 2002-05.
Barr made it clear that the Giants particularly value Arroyo's hitting potential.
"He's an offensive player," said Barr, who was instrumental in drafting catcher Buster Posey in 2008.
Observing that the Giants had followed Arroyo since last year, Barr remarked, "We've always seen him swing the bat." Defensively, Arroyo possesses the versatility to play either middle-infield spot, Barr said.
Arroyo did that well enough to be named tournament Most Valuable Player when he participated with Team USA's under-18 squad last summer as its starting shortstop. That club won gold medals in the IBAF Junior AAA/18U World Championships in Seoul, South Korea.
Arroyo said the regular contact he maintained with Mike Metcalf, the Giants' area scout, led him to suspect that San Francisco might draft him. When Barr came to see him play, he knew the Giants' interest was sincere.
"That's always a big deal when the scouting director comes to watch you play," Arroyo said.
Arroyo and the Giants' second-round selection, third baseman Ryder Jones of Watauga High School in Boone, N.C., were both lightly regarded in certain circles. Baseball America magazine ranked them 102nd and 193rd, respectively, on its list of the Draft's top 200 prospects.
But the Giants didn't win two of the last three World Series by dwelling on what others believed. Barr insisted that Arroyo was the highest-ranked player on the Giants' Draft board when their turn arrived.
"We thought he was the best player of value at that time," Barr said.
Should the Giants manage to sign Arroyo, they probably won't have to worry much about his attitude. He said that one of his models as a ballplayer is Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, because of his consistency and character.
"Hopefully I can have a career like his," Arroyo said.
Though Arroyo lives in Florida, he said he has occasionally followed the Giants to keep up with the exploits of Posey, the former Florida State star. And he appreciated being drafted by an organization that has been steeped in success.
"I love the game," Arroyo said, "but I love to win, too."
Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 9:30 a.m. PT. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In the pipeline
With an abundance of talented pitching in the lower Minor Leagues, the Giants hope to balance their supply of talent by deepening their pool of position players. With the selection of Arroyo, three of their last four No. 1 picks have been position players. Outfielder Gary Brown (2010) and infielder Joe Panik (2011) started this trend.
Though the Giants already have Brandon Crawford, who appears to have entrenched himself at shortstop, players at that position can be switched elsewhere with relative ease. Or they can be traded elsewhere with relative ease if they prove to be skilled. The Giants are following the time-honored strategy of gathering as many talented players as possible up the middle. They know they ultimately can use them one way or another.