Salt Lake City, Utah —— Ever since Christian Arroyo was in high school, his baseball career has seen high expectations.
From his sophomore to senior year he was a man among boys across the high school circuits in Florida, hitting .436/.534/.764 over three seasons. The expectations grew even larger when he opted to skip college and head straight for professional baseball after the San Francisco Giants made him a higher-than-expected amateur draft selection in 2013. And now, nearly four full years since he was drafted, it looks like every decision Christian Arroyo made along the way is paying off. After all, he’s just 21-years-old and already knocking down the door to the big leagues.
But as exciting as all that is, and even as many Giants fans are already considering where Arroyo fits in the lineup at AT&T Park, don’t expect the infielder himself to get too carried away with it just yet as he bides his time with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League.
“It’s just fun being up here with the guys on our team,” Arroyo told Baseball Census before a game late last week against the Salt Lake Bees. “We’ve got a good mix of guys who’ve been around baseball, and guys who are coming to Triple-A for their first time. Overall, it’s just been a good clubhouse atmosphere, so everytime I come to the field, I just come up here and try to enjoy it and have fun.”
Hours before that game in Salt Lake, I watched both Arroyo and Kelby Tomlinson work on double-play drills in the infield, with Arroyo playing second and Tomlinson at short. Despite Arroyo’s counterpart being 27 years old and the veteran of 106 Major League games to Christian’s zero, Arroyo fit in every bit like a big leaguer who had been there before. After Tomlinson flipped a ball towards second base and a covering Arroyo, the Giants prospect turned and promptly misfired the throw short of the first baseman’s reach, causing the ball to skip towards the first base dugout. Arroyo flashed a smile towards Tomlinson, and immediately got set up for the next grounder coming his way.
No pressure, no stress, no problem—just do it until you get it right.
This attitude has been successful at the plate for Arroyo as well. The first eleven games of his Triple-A career have seen the Florida native slash a stellar .442/.478/.651/1.129 with three doubles and two home runs in 43 at-bats. Not a bad welcoming party to the PCL, but Arroyo wouldn’t go further than crediting his simple mindset and focus on enjoying the game.
“I’m just sticking to a single approach and getting prepared for games,” he said. “[Both] in the cage and getting to the plate and just doing my thing. Playing the game and having fun.”
As simple and direct a path as Arroyo has had through the minor leagues to this point, challenges lay ahead. He’s played mostly shortstop across his career so far, but he’s now being asked to move around the infield as the Giants figure out the best position for him to break through to the big leagues. Seeing as the club already has two mainstays in Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik working the middle infield, they started to more pointedly focus on Arroyo working out at third base this spring.
“I’m kind of open to whatever,” Arroyo said about his positional future with a casual shrug. “My main goal is to get to the big leagues, play in the big leagues, and to stay there. I think the main focus for me [this spring] was moving from second and short, with a little more emphasis on third. I really talked to Matt Duffy quite a bit when he was with us, and he’s played both shortstop and third. And I do talk to Crawford and I talk to Panik as much as I can.”
That’s a calm, measured outlook for a guy who is four and a half years younger than his average competition in Triple-A, but Arroyo has always seemed to adjust pretty well to whatever competition he’s faced. His talent, even as such a young player at the game’s highest minor league level, is evident—but all the pressure and expectations and outside influence isn’t a factor to this point.
“There’s a lot of talent at Double-A and there’s a lot of talent at Triple-A,” Arroyo said. “There’s a lot of talent in the minor leagues in general. Basically level to level, it’s just more about the consistency.”
Consistency instead of high expectations, a hot bat against much older, more experienced competition, and the maturity to see the bigger picture of what’s best for the organization beyond the player.
Yeah, whenever he gets the call to San Francisco, Christian Arroyo is going to fit in just fine.
To read our scouting report on San Francisco Giants infielder Christian Arroyo, please click here.