No one knows how quickly Christian Arroyo will rise up the ranks, but the San Francisco Giants’ 2013 first-rounder has enthusiasm and personality to spare. The 25th overall pick of the 2013 draft met the media in the home dugout at AT&T Park wearing a tie that matched the Giants jersey and hat Asst. GM Bobby Evans gave him to put on halfway through the interview session.
Arroyo, who was the salutatorian at Hernando High School (about an hour away from Tampa) was asked about his thoughts on the organization he recently signed with and what it was like to get drafted and play for Team USA (where Arroyo’s team won the gold and he was voted MVP).
After he tried on his jersey and hat, Andrew Baggarly asked Arroyo about how some scouts think he might become a catcher in the Major Leagues, and the 18-year-old let it be known that he has heard those reports and wants to stay at shortstop. Then I asked Arroyo — who’s listed at 6-1 and 180 pounds — if he has watched much of Brandon Crawford, who goes 6-2, 215 (“a big dude,” as Arroyo described the Giants’ current starter at the position).
Q: What do you think of the place?
Arroyo: This place? It’s awesome. I love it. As soon as I stepped off the plane and I felt that breeze, it was pretty incredible. I’m excited to be here, and it’s truly a blessing.
Q: How familiar are you with the Giants organization?
Arroyo: I grew up as a Buster Posey fan, so I know about it a little bit. Two championships in the last three years is a pretty big deal. I’m not very familiar; growing up on the East Coast I was a Rays fan growing up, but obviously I’m a Giants fan (now). I love the organization. Everything has been dealt to me, I love it. It’s a great place to be.
Q: Have you gotten to meet Buster yet?
Arroyo: Not yet. Maybe in a little bit.
Q: What was draft day like for you?
Arroyo: It was incredible, it was surreal. Leading up to that day, all the hard work you put into it the year before, it really pays off. I was working out, I put myself in the right position, thankfully. After my senior season, I said let God take his role and we’ll see where it goes from there. And thankfully I’m here.
Q: Did you get nervous near the end of the first round?
Arroyo: No, not really. I was watching in anticipation. I was anxious to hear my name, and when it happened I broke down. I actually cried. I was very happy.
Q: Don’t usually ask fashion questions, but is the black and orange tie on purpose or an accident?
Arroyo: Completely on purpose. I was in Men’s Wearhouse and I thought, “I got to impress the people. Got to wear my colors. Wear ’em proud.”
Q: Can you talk a little about Team USA and how that prepared you?
Arroyo: That was incredible. That was a great experience. Playing against international competition, it’s huge. You got guys that are just naturally talented. Going over there, I felt confident with Team USA. I felt we could win it. And then when I came back I looked back, and these kids are really good so you’ve got to work hard. Those kids are hungry. They want it. They don’t have anything else. They eat bread all day, and then they play baseball. When I was over there, I was living in the moment. When I came back, it was time to go to work. And winning the gold and everything, it was surreal. It was just like the draft day, it was incredible. The dogpile and everything. The day they told me I made the team until the day we won the gold, it was just an incredible experience. Epic experience, actually. It was awesome, and won the gold so I was pretty happy.
Q: Were you set on signing out of high school?
Arroyo: Yeah, when negotiations were going on I was pretty set on it. As a kid you want to be a professional baseball player your whole life, so when the opportunity is dealt to you for the right amount, you go for it. That’s how it worked out, so I was happy.
(Bobby Evans hands him a jersey and hat, Arroyo puts both on)
Q: How does it feel?
Arroyo: It’s awesome. It’s nice, fits good. I like the color, it’s nice.
Q: Scouts have said you can play almost anywhere. They’ve mentioned catcher. Have you played catcher, and what do you think of it?
Arroyo: Nah, I’ve never played catcher in my life. Going into the season people were telling me that either I wasn’t fast enough to play short, or I didn’t have enough pop to play third. The bottom line was I wanted to get to work. When you’re a shortstop your whole life, that’s where you want to stay. So in the offseason I conditioned myself, went through strength and agility, yoga, deep tissue massages, the whole nine yards, swimming. All of it. It paid off, and I was happy I made that decision because I really want to play short because I feel the most natural there.
Q: Is that where you’re going to play in Arizona?
Arroyo: Yes sir.
BASG: Brandon Crawford’s kind of a bigger shortstop, too. Do you watch his game, especially defensively?
Q: Oh yeah. It’s nice to see a guy that big playing short. It gives me hope. Because he’s a big dude and he’s pretty agile. He’s very good. Hopefully one day I can get there, and play the same position and stay there.