In case you haven't figured it out yet, it's Keith Law week over at ESPN, which means we spend the week being treated to lists and rankings and lists. Yesterday we took a look at the Giants finishing with a bottom third farm ranking (again), and today we get to note proudly that Christian Arroyo is #65 on Law's list of the top 100 prospects in baseball.
Arroyo can really hit, possessing a simple load, good hand acceleration and very good hand-eye coordination, with one pro scout telling me he put a 70 on Arroyo's future hit tool -- that's batting average champion territory.
I like that assessment! I'm more than fine with a lineup filled with gap-slappin' contact monsters, and it seems like Arroyo might fit right in. Yep, an Arroyo/Panik/Duffy 1-2-3 sure seems like the future, unless it's a Duffy/Panik/Arroyo 1-2-3.
Which brings us to the obvious question: How in the heck are the Giants going to fit those three in the lineup?
They probably won't have to think too hard about it! Here are some of the things that can happen between now and the time they'll need to make a decision:
Arroyo takes his time and/or never shows up
You know, prospects are a funny bunch.
/leans back, puffs on corn cob pipe
Why, I remember Tony Torcato, who had a sweet swing and crushed the California League as a 20-year-old. He was as sure as a sure thing as sure things surely get. Then he stopped hitting for no other reason than prospects are jerks. There's a chance that Arroyo doesn't force the issue, and that Duffy, Crawford, and Panik are the infield now and forever.
Arroyo is traded
The funny thing about having just one top-100 prospect is that every other team sure knows who to ask for when you're talking trade. And if the Giants are in the middle of a pennant race this year or next, and they have an obvious need, with other teams asking about a prospect who plays a position that's blocked with young talent at the major league level, why wouldn't they consider an Arroyo trade? Why wouldn't they plan for it, even?
That isn't to say the Giants should trade him because he's blocked. Depth has a funny way of becoming necessary. But it's not like it takes an active imagination to see how Arroyo's biggest contribution to the Giants might be as a trade chip.
Someone else is traded
Or, maybe Arroyo really is Derek Jeter, and it becomes clear that he's one of the better players on any roster they can construct. Or, perhaps, one of the surprising infielders from the last two seasons slips a bit, and instead of playing at an All-Star level, they start playing at a passable-regular level, which will make the Giants' decision easy.
Hey, don't yell at me. I don't want this stuff to happen. Just watched a lot of baseball. One day you're all about Bobby Crosby, and the next day you're like, "Hey, where did that Bobby Crosby go?" If the Giants get a sense that might happen with a current player, they might be proactive.
Seriously, you are being very rude with your yelling. I'm not predicting, just pointing out that injuries sure do happen. Sometimes they're chronic and lingering. Between now and 2018, when Arroyo might be ready, all sorts of things might happen. This isn't the likeliest scenario, but there are all sorts of bogeyman out there. Note that I'm not singling out anyone. This is just a general fear hovering over every baseball team. Don't say Grady Sizemore's name three times or else he appears and ... well, shoot, I guess you can't say it two times, now.
But the injuries don't have to be that drastic, either. We could just be talking about standard DL trips here and there for anyone in the infield over the next couple years. It doesn't take much for a player to get 400 at-bats between spot starting and filling in for injuries all over the diamond.
Arroyo learns the outfield
Ben Zobrist's minor league starts by position before coming up with the Rays:
- Shortstop, 466
- Third base, 2
There was nothing that indicated, at least statistically, that Zobrist was Zeus's Swiss Army Knife. He learned the outfield and second base on the fly because the Rays needed him to.
We've already heard that Kelby Tomlinson's adventures in the outfield this fall in instructional league were less than encouraging, so it's not as simple as saying anyone can play the outfield. Even athletic, speedy players like Tomlinson can have a problem adjusting if they've spent their entire lives at an infield position.
Still, this is the likeliest scenario, at least if you're an optimist. It would allow Arroyo to blossom without all of the drama that some of those other categories bring. Plus, you know that Brandon Belt has the arm for right field if Arroyo is in left when Buster Posey becomes a full-time first baseman after Belt's extension.
Or am I too far down the rabbit hole? Sorry. Sorry about that.
It's possible that Arroyo can't learn left field, that he's the Mike Aldrete to the rest of the infield's Will Clark, and the Giants will never figure out how to make room for him. But something up there is probably going to be the answer, and when it happens, it will seem obvious. Something that fits one of those descriptions will flow naturally within the current of whatever in the heck is happening in that particular season, and we'll chuckle at any worries of an overstuffed infield.
Or to dumb it down, there were people who were against drafting Buster Posey because the Giants already had Pablo Sandoval as the catcher of the future. Time has a way of working this stuff out. And there's a lot of time before the Giants have to figure out what they're doing with Christian Arroyo.