Only 84 miles from AT&T Park, the Giants’ top young arm and bat will suit up this season at Raley Field for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. Starting pitcher Tyler Beede and infielder Christian Arroyo headline a talented crop of players that will give Giants fans a glimpse of the team’s future and perhaps also its present this year.
Beede, 23, got hit first taste of competing against major league talent on a big league mound in the final exhibition game of the Bay Bridge Series against the A’s on April 1. He earned the win after allowing two runs and striking out five in four innings pitched. After the win, Beede spoke on the experience of facing the A’s at the Coliseum.
“It was a fun experience and it’s just kind of the first bite of the ice cream, you want more of it,” Beede said. “I just look forward to getting back up here. But I need to stay focused and continue to work and improve upon what I need to improve on.”
Beede is yet to throw out of the bullpen in the minors, but that may be the Giants’ plan to get him to San Francisco this year as Bruce Bochy hinted at in spring training.
"I'm not saying that's what he's going to do, but it keeps his options open and ours if we need help in the 'pen," Bochy said. "He's at 94-95 (mph) and he's a guy that holds runners well. He's a guy with good stuff.”
In his second big league camp, Beede pitched in six games for the Giants — two starts — and showed off his big league repertoire. The Giants’ 2014 first-round draft pick went 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched.
“I think it exceeded my expectations just in terms of what I wanted to do,” Beede said on his spring training performance. “I really wanted to have a good impression on these guys. Knowing that I wasn’t necessarily competing for a spot per se, but that when the time comes that they know what they have with me, so that good impression was kind of my expectation.”
Looking at the offensive side of the ball, Arroyo is the man to watch with the River Cats this season. Arroyo’s spring training stats were down this year (.250/.286/.400, one home run) after his monster big league camp in 2016 in which he hit .556 with two home runs. The ability as a pure hitter at only 21 years old is still certainly evident though and it showed against the A’s in the last game before the regular season began.
Arroyo went 0-for-1 with a ground out to third base, but his pro approach was on full display in his first at-bat. He fought off multiple foul balls in a 3-2 count before taking a walk against Simon Castro to finish a 13-pitch at-bat. After reaching first base, Arroyo swiped second and then scored on Justin Ruggiano’s two-run homer.
“His mechanics are very solid,” Bochy said halfway through spring training. “It’s a good foundation, good balance, and he doesn’t try to do too much.”
Last season, Arroyo hit just three home runs in Double-A for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, his lowest total since his first year in the minors, while playing 74 more games. He did hit 36 doubles though, eight more than his previous career high, and his power numbers should certainly rise in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
“The bat stays in the zone a long time and he uses the whole field well,” Bochy said on Arroyo’s approach. “He’s a good hitter. He’s only going to hit for more power. The power is going to come, too.”
The most interesting factor this season for Arroyo will be where he plays on the field. Selected with the No. 25 overall pick by the Giants in the 2013 draft, Arroyo is a natural shortstop. His fastest route to the bigs is third base, though he will still play plenty of shortstop in Sacramento while also getting time at third and second base. Arroyo played 48 games at shortstop, 48 at third base and 19 at second base last season.