First, what the "experts" and "pundits" have to say:
Baseball America: At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Arroyo has surprising pop and grades out as a solid-average hitter if not a tick better. He wants to play shortstop and has excellent hands, a quick release and instincts that allow him to make all the routine plays and some spectacular ones. Still, few scouts see him as a shortstop in the big leagues. Those who don’t think he can catch see him as a tweener, not quick enough for second and not powerful enough for third base. Arroyo is a Florida recruit.
Keith Law (ESPN): “There’s likely more power in his bat if he can stay back instead of drifting over his front side. He has good arm strength but is a below-average runner and doesn’t have the footwork to stay at shortstop; he could move to second base or even behind the plate.”
Baseball America rated Arroyo as the 102nd best prospect available when the Giants picked at 25. If you believe BA's word is gospel, then this pick was a colossal reach of the Al Davis variety. But once more, unlike football, where prospects are evaluated all day long every Saturday in millions of home across the nation, few people other than those in the know have the slightest clue as to who these baseball chaps even are anyway. Most pundits called Joe Panik a reach, and he's hitting .280 with a .370 OBP for Double-A right now. Twenty-four other teams passed on Mike Trout, who was selected in the same slot (25th) as Arroyo. No, that does not mean Arroyo is a phenom like Trout; it just means we can't judge this pick until Arroyo has been given time to develop and shows what he can do.
Unlike football, where players declare for the draft and almost almost always sign their rookie contracts thanks to a new and sobering CBA, baseball players can be drafted as young as high school, and they can decline the offer by the team that drafted them and opt to attend college, usually in the hopes of improving their draft status. Since Arroyo was projected to go much later in the draft, it's unlikely he'd "hold out" for four more years and get drafted by another team any higher than 25th. In fact, it's more likely his stock could slip and he would be drafted where most analysts projected him to go. Arroyo is wickedly smart. He will finish high school with 4.4 GPA, and although he's committed to play college ball at Florida, he asserted that he would sign with the Giants "for the right cost." The Giants seem confident that they can get a deal done. Arroyo knows this is a real opportunity for him.
Is it even worth the time to form an opinion of this pick then, given how long it will take for it to pay dividends? It's a blog, so why the hell not...
The last offensive player who played shortstop that the Giants drafted and converted to catcher was Buster Posey. Arroyo wants to play shortstop. In order to get him to sign, the Giants are insisting that they see him at shortstop. But the value that Brandon Crawford brings with his youth, glove, team-friendly deal, and emerging offensive prowess, suggests that he could be a staple at short for a long time. Posey, on the other hand, will eventually move to first base to prolong his career since players take a beating behind the plate. The Sanchezes, Quirozes, Whitesides, and Stewarts of the world will not suffice as everyday options behind the dish going forward. The Giants traded away Tommy Joseph in the Hunter Pence deal, and while they still have a few quality backstops in their system, they rated none at the top of their board when they picked in the first round. Despite what the team is saying, I surmise the plan is to develop Arroyo as a catcher to eventually replace Posey. He already has the physical tools to do so, and he could offer plus hitting to avoid being the black hole in the lineup that the other guys have been.
But why pick a player ranked 102nd so early? Well, he hit .524/.580/1.019 in high school, and he was the tournament MVP for USA Baseball's 18-under team. Giants VP of scouting John Barr said that the team had been following Arroyo since last year, and that they see him as a middle-infielder. Other than Panik, there is no legitimate offense at either second or shortstop in the farm system, and there hasn't been for awhile, Crawford's recent surge (in the big leagues, no less) notwithstanding. The team needs depth there. I only wish they had a better track record of developing bats like St. Louis does. That hasn't stopped them from selecting position players in the first round, and baseball teams rarely ever draft on need. The Giants have a heathy crop of young arms in the low minors right now, and they seem to be compiling position players in the hopes of balancing out their farm system. They've always been big on the best-player-available approach, and they saw something in Arroyo to make him the 25th overall pick.
Baseball America says "few scouts see (Arroyo) as a shortstop in the big leagues. Those who don't think he can catch see him as a tweener, not quick enough for second and not powerful enough for third base." The Giants have proven they know how to develop catchers. If Arroyo's power develops, he could be the guy to replace Sandoval at third if Pablo doesn't prove to the brass that he deserves a long-term deal. I still think Arroyo's path is likely leading him behind the plate, but there's always the chance that the Giants truly believe he can stick at second base or short, like they say. Regardless, they believe they have added value to the organization, wherever Arroyo ends up playing.