Christian Arroyo –
our #2 ranked prospect.
Welcome to The Show.
(#2 ranking according to our Prospects1500 Giants Top 50 Prospects list posted this past January)
Arroyo entered the 2017 season as the best hitter in a San Francisco system that doesn’t boast many of them. To open the year, the Giants challenged Arroyo with an assignment to AAA Sacramento where he’d face the most advanced pitching he’d ever seen. The 21-year-old took the challenge in stride and obliterated it, hitting an absurd .446/.478/.692 in his first 16 games.
Those 16 games were enough to force a promotion to a big league club that hit just .230/.289/.342 with only 87 runs scored in April, good for second worst in the Majors. A broken collarbone suffered by starting outfielder Jarrett Parker on April 15 would push the Giants to shift Eduardo Nunez to left field, opening the everyday third base job for Arroyo.
In his first taste of big league action however, Arroyo has looked over matched. He’s hit just .209/.266/.337 while striking out at an uncharacteristically high 24.5% rate. Normally, a .246 BABIP would be suggestive of some element of bad luck, but for Arroyo it’s the ground balls that have been weighing him down. He actually tallied 11 total bases in his first 5 games, including 2 HRs, and some Giants fans may have been thinking the rookie’s bat was going to continue smashing the ball like he was doing in AAA. After a 23-game sample and about a month in the Majors that just hasn’t been the case.
Of all Major League hitters with at least 90 plate appearances this season, Arroyo is sporting a 3.18 GB/FB ratio, third worst in the league. Left-handed hitters with straight line speed can occasionally enjoy success with that approach (Ben Revere, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon to name a few), but Arroyo is neither fast, nor left-handed.
The debut has not been completely devoid of positives, though. In a bit of a surprise, the balls Arroyo has hit in the air thus far have left the park at a 27.3% clip. This sort of HR/FB ratio is comparable to Joey Gallo (28.6%), Chris Davis (27.6%), and Will Myers (25.0%), a few of the strongest hitters in the game. In fact, in 38 games this year Arroyo has already managed to hit twice the number of HRs (6) than he did in 119 games last season. While the power might not be sustainable, it’s a promising development nonetheless.
Small samples aside, what’s evident is that the young infielder’s immediate utility to the struggling Giants depends on him finding more of the barrel and less of the dirt. If he can’t make adjustments at the plate, I’d expect a demotion back to AAA Sacramento – and soon.
Article featured image of Christian Arroyo – courtesy aroundthefoghorn.com/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports