By Rich Arleo
CBS Local Sports, in our 30 Players 30 Days spring training feature, profiles one young player from each Major League Baseball team leading up to opening day.
2016 season (Minors): 119 G, 474 AB, .274 BA, 3 HR, 49 RBI, 1 SB, .689 OPS
The San Francisco Giants turned heads when they drafted Christian Arroyo out of high school in the first round of the 2013 draft. Since then, it’s been Arroyo who has done nothing but turn heads in the Minor Leagues on his way to becoming the Giants’ No. 2 rated prospect (According to MLBPipeline.com).
Arroyo began his career at Rookie ball at 18 years old and proceeded to win the league’s MVP award with a .326/.388/.511 line in 45 games. He followed that up with a .291/.330/.404 line in two higher levels the following year and an even more impressive .304/.344/.459 line at Class A Advanced in ‘15. Heading into last year he was listed as a Top 100 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com and joined the Giants for Spring Training.
That spring, Arroyo made waves and truly introduced himself to the fan base by going 10-for-18 (.556) with two homers and six RBIs. The Giants never planned on bringing Arroyo up straight to the bigs without ever playing above the Class A Advanced level. They didn’t really have a spot for him either, so he spent the season at Double-A. Arroyo went through a few growing pains at Double-A but still put up respectable numbers while hitting the third most doubles in the Eastern League (36, two behind the leader).
Arroyo went into Spring Training with a shot at making the Giants, and while he did OK (.250, 1 HR, 4 RBIs) the team decided they’d rather get him regular at-bats at Triple-A, which will be the highest level he’s played at thus far.
While Giants GM Bobby Evans has made it clear they want Arroyo to get more experience, he did leave the door open for him to force his way onto the club should an opportunity arise if current third-base options Eduardo Nunez and/or Conor Gillaspie get hurt or don’t perform.
If Arroyo does force his way to the bigs this season, what can we expect? He won’t provide much in the home run department, but he is a pure contact hitter who does have enough pop to rack up doubles. He hasn’t been able to turn those doubles into homers, and while it still could happen considering he’s only 21 years old, his power doesn’t project to advance much and his ceiling is likely 10-13 homers a year. Arroyo also doesn’t have much in the way of speed, but what he does best is simply hit — with the popular big league comparison being Martin Prado, who is a career .293 hitter over 11 MLB seasons.
Some scouts have blamed Arroyo’s dip in average last season to a poor hitting environment in Richmond and think he will have no issues getting back up over .300 at Triple-A Sacramento. Considering he doesn’t have too much competition blocking his way, it will be worth monitoring Arroyo’s progress in the Minors this year, because if he continues to hit then it would be a shock not to see him up with the Giants at some point this year.
Rich Arleo is a freelance sports writer and editor who covers Major League Baseball and fantasy sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Rarleo