The San Francisco Giants surprised observers with their selection of shortstop Christian Arroyo with their first pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Some thought Arroyo didn't have a major tool or tools to project as a first-rounder. But the Giants had watched and scouted him for quite a while and expressed confidence in his ability. Arroyo's performance in the Rookie-level Arizona League provided credence to the team's strong evaluation.
Chosen 25th overall, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-handed-hitting Arroyo had an outstanding career as a shortstop for Hernando High School in Brooksville, Fla. In his senior season, he hit .524 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs over 105 at-bats. Included in Arroyo's offensive production were 13 doubles and three triples. He finished high school with a composite .436 batting average. That type of hitting gains attention.
Arroyo added to his allure by being named the Most Valuable Player of the International Baseball Federation's 18-and-under World Championships in Seoul, Korea, as a member of Team USA.
Arroyo is ranked No. 8 on the Giants' Top 20 Prospects list.
I saw plenty of Arroyo this summer, as he and Giants second-round Draft selection Ryder Jones played side by side on the left side of the Giants' Arizona League infield. They may well be the shortstop-third base combination of the team's future.
Arroyo had an outstanding summer. He was named the league's Most Valuable Player after hitting .326 with two homers and 39 RBIs. He also stole three bases.
Arroyo's hitting tool projects to be his future calling card for playing big league baseball. That's the tool the Giants saw before the Draft.
Arroyo went to the plate 209 times in Arizona. He struck out 32 times and drew 19 walks in his 45 games. Over the course of the summer, Arroyo became a very difficult out. He saw lots of pitches, recognized breaking balls well and -- in the games I watched -- hit plenty of foul balls to extend his at-bats.
Having just turned 18 in May, Arroyo shows mature hitting mechanics and a good feel for his offensive game. He has a very level swing that results in line drives to the gaps. Arroyo's strong hands are quick through the ball, and he makes quick decisions to swing at pitches he thinks he can drive. His swing is compact and measured -- he doesn't try to kill the ball. Arroyo knows his limitations and capabilities very well.
Usable speed is not among Arroyo's sharpest tools, but he is certainly an average Major League runner. He won't necessarily clog the bases, but he probably won't become a basestealing threat, either.
Some scouts had questioned Arroyo's ability to play shortstop effectively and efficiently. In the Arizona League, he played the position well. Even though I didn't see Arroyo flash the best range, and his slowish first step came into play, he handled 192 chances while making only eight errors. That's a very solid accomplishment given the hard sun-baked infields in the summer desert.
Because Arroyo may not consistently get to balls in the hole at shortstop quickly enough, I think he projects best as a second baseman. His agility and arm strength seem as though they should play very well at that less-pressure-filled position. However, it is likely Arroyo will get every opportunity to show he fits at shortstop. And he may do just fine, as he did this past summer.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less