|Arenado will probably start season in minors |
by Nick Shlain of TigsTown.com, March 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm ET
Nolan Arenado Profile
Chances are third base prospect Nolan Arenado won't open the season with the Rockies. Arenado, 20, has never played above the high Class A level, so it's likely he will start the season at Class AA Tulsa. Arenado, who turns 21 on April 16, has hit sights set higher.
"My goal is to make this team," said Arenado, who is in his first big league camp. "I don't know what my chances are. Maybe they aren't high. But I can put something in their head to let them know I definitely want to be here now.
"I don't want to hear about my age. There's no excuses if I mess up." Last year at high Class A Modesto, Arenado hit .298 with 32 doubles, 20 homers and a minor-league leading 122 RBI. He also had nearly as many walks (47) as strikeouts (53). Arenado then went to the Arizona Fall League where he was chosen the most valuable player.
The Rockies signed Casey Blake, 38, to a minor league contract and view Blake as a bridge to Arenado.
After the 2010 season, Arenado weighed 235 pounds, and he lacked range and first-step quickness at third base. Indeed, the assumption in the Rockies organization was that Arenado would have to move across the diamond to first base.
But he worked hard in the 2010-11 offseason to get into better shape, began paying attention to what he ate and improved markedly at third base last season. During this current offseason, Arenado spent time in Las Vegas working out with Troy Tulowitzki, Jason Giambi and Dexter Fowler.
"He's young, but he absorbs everything," Giambi said. "He's hungry to learn."
If the Rockies were to have Arenado open the season in the majors and part with Blake, they would seem to be running a huge risk of having to mix and match at third base should Arenado struggles. So it would appear that Arenado is destined to start the season in the minors, which by no means rules out getting to the big leagues at some point this year. In spring training, Arenado went 2-for-7 with two doubles and one RBI in his first four games and will be given opportunities.
"We have to expose him to the speed of the game at this level," manager Jim Tracy said. "It's another click on the dial."
The Rockies don't want to throw Arenado into the deep end offensively but will let him find his way. How long that development will take is unknown, although it's not expected to be anything more than getting a steady of volume of at-bats in the minors to start this season.
Vinny Castilla, a former third baseman and Rockies special assistant, has been very impressed with Arenado's defense and his athleticism. "He has great hands, a strong arm, a real good idea of what he's doing," Castilla said. "It's been impressive. Defensively, he's major league for me right now."