ST. PETERSBURG -- Christian Arroyo grew up pulling for the Rays and Evan Longoria. Now he'll be one of the guys trying to fill the infield void created by the departure of the face of the franchise.Arroyo came to the Rays in the December trade that sent Longoria to the
ST. PETERSBURG -- Christian Arroyo grew up pulling for the Rays and Evan Longoria. Now he'll be one of the guys trying to fill the infield void created by the departure of the face of the franchise.
Arroyo came to the Rays in the December trade that sent Longoria to the Giants. The 22-year-old infielder will be familiar with the area, since he grew up north of St. Petersburg in Brooksville, where he played shortstop well enough at Hernando High School to entice the Giants to select him with the 25th pick of the 2013 Draft.
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Arroyo advanced accordingly within the Giants' system and began the 2017 season with Triple-A Sacramento, for which he hit .396 with seven doubles, four home runs, and 16 RBIs in 25 games. In 34 games with the Giants, he hit .192 with three homers and 14 RBIs. Arroyo broke his hand on July 1 to end his season. That injury should be healed, paving the way for Arroyo to be in the infield mix this spring.
Arroyo is so highly thought of that on Tuesday, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 5 third-base prospect in the Minors heading into the 2018 season. He is the No. 4 prospect in the Rays' farm system, though that list will get an update next month.
Arroyo has tremendous hand-eye coordination, which gives him the ability to frequently barrel balls from the right side of the plate, producing hard contact to all fields. Ironically, while classified as a third baseman, Arroyo might find himself at another position if he breaks camp with Tampa Bay this season.
The Rays' infield is in flux, as shortstop Adeinys Hechavarria is the only sure thing at this juncture. Arroyo will compete to start at third against Matt Duffy and Daniel Robertson. Those two could also compete with Arroyo for a spot at second base.
Other possibilities at second base include Brad Miller, Robertson, Micah Johnson, Ryan Schimpf and Joey Wendle.
Duffy, who also came to the Rays from the Giants in a trade, is familiar with Arroyo and believes in his abilities.
"You can stick Arroyo anywhere," Duffy said. "I've played with him. I've watched him. At Spring Training, I've been across the diamond from him. His hands can play at any position. You can put him at short. He's not going to stick out like a sore thumb anywhere you put him, short, second, third."
Longoria believes Arroyo has "a tremendous opportunity to bring new life" to the Rays.
"That was kind of the way I looked at it when I was a young player, and I think he'll have the same opportunity," Longoria said. "I know that it's probably hard for the fan base to see right now. But obviously in the recent past, you look at what the Astros did, and I think that's kind of the arc that the Rays would like to take now and build a core group of young players that they can build off of."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.