Staying together because of the kids
AT&T PARK — In between finding out that he’d been summoned to the major leagues and driving down Interstate-80 and across the Bay Bridge, Christian Arroyo made a quick stop at the Sacramento home he’d been sharing with good friend and fellow super-prospect Tyler Beede.
The right-handed Beede, who was pitching for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats that Monday night, hadn’t been expecting to see Arroyo back at the house. The infielder had already headed to the the stadium, where he learned of his promotion.
“I walked in, and he kind of looked at me like, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’” Arroyo recalled as he stood in front of his locker in the clubhouse at AT&T Park. “And I was like, ‘Hey, man, are you starting tonight?’ And I was like, ‘Good luck. I won’t be playing behind you tonight.’ He’s like, ‘You got the call?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, dude.’”
The friends exchanged hugs, and Arroyo was off to join the Giants.
While the pair of prospects have played together over parts of the past three seasons beginning at High-A San Jose in 2015, the bond between Beede and Arroyo predates either player’s arrival in the Giants’ system. They first met when Arroyo — still a star infielder at Hernando High School in Brooksville, Fla. — took a recruiting trip to Vanderbilt, where Beede was already a member of the Commodores’ rotation.
Thanks to a turbulent April, Arroyo — the club’s No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft — is already in San Francisco, headlining an emerging generation of young Giants who have a chance to lift the team out of its early season malaise.
— jacob c. palmer (@jacobc_palmer) April 28, 2017
Arroyo collected his first major-league hit on Tuesday against Clayton Kershaw — a feat he described as “incredible.” A day later, he tagged Sergio Romo for a two-run homer that sparked a come-from-behind win. In Thursday’s Giants-Dodgers finale, Arroyo supplied a game-tying knock. Then on Friday, he sent the go-ahead home run into the left-field bleachers in the bottom of the eighth.
“It’s been an energy jolt having him come up,” right-fielder Hunter Pence said. “I think the excitement — with his talent — you can feel the electricity from him as well.”
“A 21-year-old in the big leagues is pretty special,” Pence added.
Bruce Bochy echoed that sentiment, suggesting that “Yo” could soon end up in the heart of the order against left-handed pitching.
“I think, really, he fits well as a three-hole hitter,” Bochy said.
and here’s 27-year-old Matt Moore, who Arroyo looked up to as a teen growing up in Tampa. pic.twitter.com/v2znVVU7L9
— jacob c. palmer (@jacobc_palmer) April 28, 2017
The manager went on to praise Arroyo’s discipline and balance in the box before tempering expectations.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on this kid,” Bochy said. “But he’s a really tough kid that can handle all we’ve thrown at him.”
At 23, Beede is the next “kid” in line to ascend to a Giants team that is trying to dig its way out of an opening month that has included far more hiccups than Bochy would like.
“He’s got great stuff,” Arroyo said of Beede before declining to speculate on how close his friend is to being major-league ready. “He’s a great pitcher and a competitor, but obviously those issues are things that just kind of happen from the front office. So, I know that whenever he does eventually get up here, he’s going to compete and he’s got good stuff.”
The final hurdle for Beede — selected No. 14 overall in the 2014 draft — is to tighten up his command. The starter has issued 10 free passes in his first 21 Triple-A innings.
“He’s kind of toned down on his walks and stuff,” Arroyo said. “I know people had always talked about him being a little wild, but he’s pounding the zone now. So, he’s kind of honing all of his stuff and figuring out really how to throw a lot of strikes and get hitters out.”
A couple of Beede’s River Cats teammates — namely, Austin Slater and Jae-gyun Hwang — could boost the underwhelming major-league outfield later in the summer, and even Double-A slugger/2015 comp pick Chris Shaw could hit his way into the conversation.
In the interim, Ty Blach has joined Arroyo as one of the youthful Giants capitalizing on the April chaos. The 26-year-old found himself stranded in the bullpen until Madison Bumgarner wrecked his dirt bike in the mountains outside Denver.
“They told me when we were in Colorado that I was going to be starting when he got hurt,” Blach said. “So, you just kind of start mentally preparing then and know, hey, you’ve got to get your body ready for that fifth day and get ready to go.”
Blach responded to his promotion into the Bumgarner slot by delivering five innings of two-run ball and notching a double off Kershaw on Tuesday.
After losing the No. 5 spot to Matt Cain in the spring, the left-hander did nothing but smile and insist he was happy to help out in relief. Now, as is the case with Arroyo, unforeseen circumstances have provided Blach with an unexpected opening.
“Starting is something I’ve done my whole life, so I’m used to it and I feel good physically,” Blach said. “So, I’m excited [about] whatever opportunities present themselves.”