Christian Arroyo, the recently graduated shortstop for Hernando High, became the first Hernando County player selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft Thursday night.
Arroyo was taken by the San Francisco Giants with the 25th pick.
“It’s been pretty surreal,” Arroyo said. “It’s hard to put into words exactly what’s going on. But being the first pick of the San Francisco Giants, it’s an incredible feeling.”
After last summer when his stock skyrocketed following MVP honors while helping Team USA win the XXV IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship in Seoul, South Korea, Arroyo produced a stellar final prep campaign.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior hit a staggering .524 over 30 games and 105 at-bats, tallying 13 doubles, three triples and 11 home runs. He also drove in 35 runs and scored 42 times, while continuing to build on his reputation as a slick fielder.
The Leopards advanced to at least the Elite Eight in all three of Arroyo’s seasons with the team, reaching the Final Four in 2011.
As a junior he orally committed to the University of Florida and signed with the Gators in the fall.
“The anticipation and the process, people would not believe the pressure that he and his family have been through in the last year,” Hernando head coach Tim Sims said. “This is absolutely amazing. He is so blessed to have his support group, and the way he’s so grounded. He put in the time and the preparation. It’s not just ability. I’m so proud of him.”
???Arroyo said he was “completely caught off-guard” when he heard MLB Commissioner Bud Selig read his name as the Giants’ selection, but said John Barr, the team’s assistant general manager for scouting and international operations, and scout Mike Metcalf had seen him play several times.
“I knew they were on me, but I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Arroyo said.
It was considered a surprise for Arroyo to go so early because he was ranked 102nd among draft prospects by Baseball America.
Though he was intially known more for his glove early in his prep career, his ability to play shortstop at the professional level has been called into question. There are suggestions that he projects more as a catcher.
“As of now, they drafted me as a shortstop and that’s where I want to play as long as possible,” Arroyo said. “If it comes down to it and they want me to switch positions, I’ll do whatever it takes to help the Giants win a championship.”
Arroyo pointed out that All-Star catcher Buster Posey isn’t likely to leave the Giants, who have won two of the past three World Series, in the near future. Brandon Crawford, in his third season, currently starts at shortstop.
But Arroyo is still likely a few years away from breaking in with the big league club. His focus now is on paying off the decision made by Barr, Metcalf and Giants general manager Brian Sabean. He wants to pattern himself after NFL legend Jerry Rice, who overcame lower expectations with hard work.
Of course, it’s not 100 percent certain he’ll sign with the Giants. The team’s first rounder is slotted for a $1,866,500 signing bonus, yet he would not tip his hand.
“As of now I’ll either be the best student-athlete at UF I can be, or I’ll be the best individual player I can be in the Giants organization,” Arroyo said. “The rest of the journey, the path, will take care of itself.”
Also this week, Arroyo was named Class 5A Player of the Year by the Florida Dairy Farmers, making him a finalist for the state’s Mr. Baseball Award. Arroyo was Florida’s first high school player drafted.
Arroyo is just the second player from the county, following former teammate Brett Maggard in 2011 (38th round by the Philadelphia Phillies), to be drafted straight out of high school since Hernando graduate and current Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo (no relation).
“Everybody in Hernando County should be very, very proud,” Sims said. “He’s competed on little league fields around here for a while. To have a first-round pick, it’s awesome.”
Previously the player from the county selected highest in the June Amateur Draft was Bronson Arroyo, who was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round in 1995.
Walker and Bronson Arroyo are the only players to graduate from a county school and eventually play in the majors.
“It’s an honor,” Christian Arroyo said of being the county’s highest pick. “But at the end of the day, the draft is one step of the way.
“It’s a big deal for me and my family. But my ultimate goal is to make it to the big leagues.”
By the numbers: All-time Hernando County Draft Picks (June Amateur Draft)
Year Name School Team Round (Overall)
1976 Charles Farmer Hernando Detroit 9 (194)
1984 Mike Walker Hernando Montreal 14 (353)
1986 Eddie Looper* Hernando St. Louis 21 (546)
1986 Steve Livesey Springstead New York (AL) 29 (725)
1988 Tyrone Woods Hernando Montreal 5 (128)
1988 J.D. Noland* Springstead San Diego 13 (318)
1989 Avery Duval Hernando Texas 54 (1,334)
1991 Steve Livesey* Springstead New York (AL) 35 (907)
1993 Brent Stentz Hernando San Diego 45 (1,258)
1993 Landon Hessler Hernando Houston 23 (644)
1994 Landon Hessler* Hernando Minnesota 43 (1,184)
1994 Brent Stentz* Hernando Detroit 33 (921)
1995 Bronson Arroyo Hernando Pittsburgh 3 (69)
1998 Bert Snow* Hernando Oakland 10 (285)
2005 Dee Brown* Hernando Washington 10 (294)
2005 Patrick Ryan* Central Milwaukee 19 (565)
2011 Brett Maggard Hernando Philadelphia 38 (1,171)
2013 Christian Arroyo Hernando San Francisco 1 (25)
2013 Mike Adams* Nature Coast Boston 7 (203)
* Drafted out of college