Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Arroyo makes history for Hernando

Tampa Bay's rich tradition of elite high school baseball prospects stretched all the way to Brooksville on Thursday night.

Hernando shortstop Christian Arroyo became the first high school player in Hernando County history to be drafted in the first round when the San Francisco Giants picked him 25th overall in the amateur draft.

Arroyo was the state's only first-rounder drafted directly from high school Thursday, and he became the highest drafted player from Hernando County since Bronson Arroyo (no relation) was chosen by the Pirates in the third round of the 1995 draft.

"It was the most exhilarating moment of my life," Arroyo said. "It was crazy."

The moments leading up to it were tense.

Rumors had been circulating in Brooksville for weeks about the Giants snagging Arroyo in the first round. But when San Francisco came up at No. 25, Arroyo's phone didn't ring, even though the draft had fallen his way with three middle infielders already off the board. Arroyo and his family started thinking about the next possible landing spot.

Instead, MLB commissioner Bud Selig stepped to the podium and called Arroyo's name.

"You work your whole life for a moment like this," Arroyo said. "I can't ask for anything more right now."

Although the pick didn't surprise Arroyo, it shocked some analysts.

Baseball America ranked him as the draft's No. 102 overall prospect, and called the pick "a bit of a reach" for an "undersized grinder." He was the first player chosen who didn't crack MLB's top 100 prospects list, and ESPN ranked him at No. 99 overall. The MLB Network's telecast called it "a shocking pick," not because of his potential but because of his hard-to-project position.

Arroyo's credentials are strong. He signed with the Gators after committing during his junior season. He not only represented the United States in the under-18 world championships in Korea last September — he was the tournament MVP, guided the United States to gold with a .387 average and appeared in Sports Illustrated.

And this week, the Florida Dairy Farmers named Arroyo their Class 5A player of the year and a finalist for the state's Mr. Baseball award. As a senior, he batted .524 with 35 RBIs and ranked among the state's leaders with 11 home runs.

Despite his production, some scouts feared his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame and below-average speed might project better at catcher or second base than shortstop, though the Giants said they plan to try him at shortstop.

Arroyo said this week that he wants to stay at shortstop initially but isn't opposed to moving positions if shortstop doesn't work out.

"If I don't have to do it as soon as my career begins, I don't want to," he said. "I want to stay a shortstop as long as possible."

Thursday was the culmination of a whirlwind week for the 18-year-old Arroyo. He graduated high school Monday and gave his school's salutatorian speech. Three days later, he realized a lifelong dream, heard his name on national television and made North Suncoast history.

The coming weeks could get even crazier as he faces the biggest decision of his life. Arroyo carried a 4.4 GPA at Hernando and would like to study engineering at Florida if baseball doesn't work out. But a pro contract — slotted at $1,866,500, according to Baseball America — might keep him out of Gainesville.

Arroyo said he'll spend the summer in negotiations with a club that's won the World Series twice in the last four seasons.

"It was an exhilarating moment," Arroyo said. "Words just can't explain it."

Also going on Day 1, Durant right-handed pitcher Tyler Danish and Gaither shortstop Oscar Mercado.

The Chicago White Sox selected Danish with the 55th overall pick, late in the second round. Danish just completed one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory, going 15-1 with a 0.00 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 94 innings — all numbers that ranked him among the nation's top five high school pitchers.

But his draft stock was in flux because of a funky sidearm delivery and his less-than-optimal size (6-0, 180 pounds).

Mercado slid out of the first round but remained a first-day selection. The St. Louis Cardinals chose him in the second round (No. 57 overall). Mercado's stock dipped this spring after batting .286 with 14 RBIs. Before his senior season, he was regarded as one of the draft's top high school prospects.

     
Comments

North shuts out South squad in Pinellas All-Star Football Classic

CLEARWATER — The players had so much fun, officials at Clearwater High School literally had to turn off the lights post-game to get everyone to go home.With more than 60 talented and motivated seniors participating in Wednesday's 23rd annu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

DETROIT — Brad Marchand assisted on the tying goal late in regulation and scored the winner 35 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday.The Bruins managed only two shots on goal in the first period but tw...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Market starting to set itself

Market starting to set itself

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Times wires

INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday. Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finis...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingSuper Bantamweights: Salgado vs. Diego De La Hoya10:30 p.m.ESPN2College basketballBethune-Cookman at USF7 p.m.820-AMValparaiso at Northwestern8 p.m.Big TenSouthern at Baylor8:30 p.m.ESPN2College volleyball, NCAA semifinalsNebraska vs. Penn...
Updated: 5 hours ago
First-ever Falcon Nobis dies at 74

First-ever Falcon Nobis dies at 74

ATLANTA — Tommy Nobis, the first player drafted by the expansion Falcons and a hard-hitting middle linebacker who was never fully recognized for his talents on a struggling franchise that failed to make the playoffs during his long career, died Wedne...
Updated: 5 hours ago