Few sounds are sweeter than the crack of a bat in February, but one thing certainly is: the unmistakable thwack of a pitch redirected at high velocity for a home run from one of your team's top prospects in early spring, particularly one whose power is criticized. Nolan Arenado came into camp in 2012 as the hottest name in Salt River. He had demolished the Arizona Fall League in that same stadium just months prior, and many hoped he would hit his way onto the big league roster. The youngster struggled with the expectations and floundered. Yesterday, in just his fourth at-bat of this spring, he did what he could not a year ago. Pinch-hitting for Chris Nelson, Arenado launched a no-doubt home run off Rangers prospect Neil Ramirez. As I wrote on New Year's Day, no position player in the Rockies organization has the potential for a bigger impact on the Rockies 2013 record than Nolan Arenado. The position-mate he pinch-hit for yesterday, Chris Nelson, did hit .301/.352/.458 in a bit of a breakout in 2012, but he was also a butcher on defense, rating as one of the worst infielders in MLB by any statistical measure. As for 2013, both ZiPS and PECOTA agree: Nolan Arenado would be the Rockies best third baseman for the upcoming season, projecting as at least twice as valuable as Nelson. This even ignores the undeniably higher ceiling Arenado could provide. The question could get deafening in coming weeks if Arenado can repeat his Monday performance: should the Rockies' starting third baseman on April 1 in Milwaukee? In a word: nojustdon'teventhinkaboutit.
Nolan Arenado for Opening Day 3B?
Purple Row | Feb 26