This pick was subject to the juiciest rumor at the Florida high school All-Star Game in Sebring: Florida prep SS Christian Arroyo going to the Giants at this pick for a discount and eventually being converted to catcher. The Giants were rolling four deep at the event, although Arroyo is more of a second-round talent and could make it to their second round pick.On Thursday, the Giants used the 25th pick of the draft to select Arroyo. However, Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay reported via Twitter that the Giants will have to pony up the cash to buy Arroyo out of his commitment to the University of Florida. If there wasn't a below-slot deal in place with Arroyo, then this pick is somewhat puzzling given that he ranked 99 on Keith Law's draft board and 102 on Baseball America's.
Of course, the Giants may have had Arroyo ranked higher on their draft board. The Giants have used first-round picks in recent years on Zack Wheeler (6th pick, 2009), Buster Posey (5th pick, 2008), Madison Bumgarner (10th pick, 2007), Tim Lincecum (10th pick, 2006) and Matt Cain (25th pick, 2002). The jury remains out on 2010 first-rounder Gary Brown (24th overall) and 2011 first-rounder Joe Panik (29th overall). Brown is currently hitting just .205/.268/.321 at Triple-A Fresno. Panik is hitting .281 with a .370 on-base percentage at Double-A Richmond. However, he's slugging just .376 with one home run.
If Brown doesn't make it to the show, his failure could ultimately be one of development. He hit .336/.407/.519 with 53 steals two years ago at High-A San Jose. He also profiled as a potentially elite defender in center field. Thus, the tools were obviously there with Brown. The fact that he's regressed significantly during the last two years doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't the right pick.
Here's what Baseball America said about Arroyo via Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News:
If former Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius ran a draft room, he’d likely pick Arroyo very high. Brosius coached USA Baseball’s 18-and-under team last summer, when Arroyo led it to a gold medal as the shortstop, top hitter and tournament MVP. He carried that confidence into the spring, to the point that it turned off some scouts, who see a below-average runner and modest athlete who profiles best as a catcher. 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.On draft day, all of these guys are future All-Stars, even though most of them won't get to the big leagues. Four years from now, if Arroyo is hitting like Brown and someone picked behind him is succeeding in the big leagues, I'll write an angry blog about this pick. Until then, I won't pretend to have any clue if this is a good pick or not.
I have seen #1 overall pick Mark Appel pitch a handful of times over the last two seasons, and I would not have selected him if I were the Houston Astros' scouting director. I wrote a more detailed scouting report on him here.
Appel throws in the mid-90s, has a plus slider, pitches to both sides of the plate and attacks the strike zone. However, his fastball is not a swing-and-miss pitch despite the plus velocity and his command within the zone wavers. His slider is outstanding, but the changeup was extremely inconsistent each time I saw him. If I had the first pick of this year's draft, I would have passed on Appel and taken University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant. Position players have less injury risk than pitchers, and college position players have had the highest rate of success in the draft historically.
Appel is not a clear-cut future ace in my view. With his stuff, he should have been more dominant this year as a college senior. In the three starts I saw from him this season, he didn't look like a surefire top-of-the-rotation starter. If the fastball command and changeup improve, he has a chance to get to that level. However, if this is as good as it gets, he'll be a mid-rotation starter.