Giants' Arroyo lands on Top 100 Prospects list

Young shortstop could force tough decisions for San Francisco in coming seasons

Giants' Arroyo lands on Top 100 Prospects list

SAN FRANCISCO -- Christian Arroyo could cause nightmares for the Giants' decision-makers in a year or two. For now, they can still dream about him blissfully.

Arroyo, named Friday as baseball's No. 82 prospect on MLBPipeline.com's annual Top 100 Prospects list, appears destined to join the group of productive infielders the Giants have developed in recent years. San Francisco possesses an entirely homegrown starting infield consisting of first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik, shortstop Brandon Crawford and third baseman Matt Duffy.

With the possible exception of Belt, who'll become eligible for free agency in 2018, this contingent could remain intact for years to come. Thus, if Arroyo continues to blossom as the Giants believe he will, he'll force them to contemplate some difficult questions about accommodating him.

Convert Arroyo to first base or the outfield? That would be a drastic switch, but not unprecedented.

Install Arroyo at second base? That would mean unseating Panik, a 2015 National League All-Star. Besides, Arroyo played just 26 games at second in his first three professional seasons, compared with 191 at shortstop.

Make Arroyo the everyday shortstop? Not very likely. Crawford, another All-Star, signed a six-year contract extension this offseason.

Use Arroyo at third? That's another spot San Francisco doesn't need to upgrade. Duffy finished second in last year's NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting and won the Giants' coveted Willie Mac Award while entrenching himself in the lineup.

MLB Pipeline's 2016 Top 100 Prospects list

Lipso Nava, Arroyo's hitting coach at Class A Advanced San Jose last year, is free from assuming such mental burdens.

"That's not my call," said Nava, who has become San Jose's manager. "I think he's athletic enough to become a great infielder."

The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.

San Francisco's No. 1 selection (25th overall) in the 2013 MLB Draft, Arroyo already has demonstrated the potential to hit capably. Consistency has been the 20-year-old's hallmark. He batted .304 for San Jose last year and owns a .303 lifetime Minor League average. Those numbers are comparable with the .308 figure Arroyo posted this offseason for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League, which named him to its All-Prospect Team.

Nava said that Arroyo feels comfortable with his burgeoning skill.

"The swagger is impressive," Nava said. "He's not afraid of anything. He knows he's good."

As Nava related, Arroyo expects to excel. Arroyo took a .322 batting average into last August, but he hit .272 for the remainder of the season while striving to contribute to San Jose's postseason bid.

"I think he was trying to carry the team on his shoulders," Nava said. "He started putting pressure on himself a lot. So we had a conversation to get him back in 'relax' mode, let things happen and focus on the things in front of you."

The Giants are focused on Arroyo's potential.

"The better pitchers he faces, [the more he] raises the bar for himself," Nava said. "He's starting to know his swing better. He's starting to recognize his hitting flaws, like right away. So he's able to make the adjustment needed."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.