Height: 6’1″ Weight: 205
Nolan Arenado was drafted out of High School in El Toro, CA by the Rockies in 2009. Taken in the second round, with the 59th overall pick, he signed for an above slot $625,000 bonus. He was drafted based on his plus hitting projection in spite of numerous questions about where he would eventually play on defense.
Based on his size, he was 225 lbs when drafted, he seemed a lock to have to move to 1B eventually. While that still may be the case, Arenado has done everything he can to stick at 3B. He’s dropped 20 lbs while firming up his 6’1″ frame and adding strength and worked diligently on his defense at 3B.
In his first taste of pro ball he hit .300 with 15 doubles and 2 HR in 203 AB. The power wasn’t there yet, but the classic hit tool was.
In 2010 he was able to outpace his debut and start to turn the power on. He hit .308 with 41 doubles and 12 HR in 373 while boosting his IsoP to .212. That performance took him from just outside the top 100 to #32 overall on our 2011 Top 100 Prospect List. Here’s what we had to say:
32. Nolan Arenado 3B COL – Arenado has done nothing but hit since being drafted. Some think he’ll need to shift to 1B, but as a High School SS he has the ability and the arm to stick at 3B which is a need in Colorado. He has the bat to hit .300 and slug 30+ HRs per season in time. He is the best all around hitter in the system at age 20.
With the bar raised high for the 2011 season and with a renewed focus on his fitness and defense, let’s see what made Arenado a top prospect.
Some may see his 2011 numbers of .298 with a .190 IsoP as a step back and on the surface they would be right. Though as a 20 year old in High-A, focusing on his defense, the .298 AVG with 32 doubles and 20 HR in 517 AB is elite. Add to those numbers the improvments in both his K rate, which dropped from 13.1% in 2010 to just 9.1% in 2011 and his walk rate which almost doubled from 4.8% to 8.1% and you have a significant growth season for a young hitter.
His AVG which dropped below .300 for the first time in his career was held down slightly by some poor luck as well shown in his .293 BABIP. So we should see some improvement in his 2012 AVG, even if his BABIP just reverts to the norm.
As I mentioned earlier, Arenado has worked hard this season on his defense with a keen eye on sticking at 3B long term for the Rockies. He was a high school SS and has more than enough arm for the position.
He won’t be anything more than an average 3B defender but should be able to stick there long term or at least through his prime seasons.
As one of the premier bat prospects in the minor leagues, Arenado has the ability to hit at a high level. He’ll be just 21 at the beginning of the 2012 season and isn’t far off from making his debut in Colorado.
During the prime of his career, he’s a player capable of .300 seasons with near 30 HR power and high on base totals. He could be a prototypical 3-hitter during his prime.
Again, his defense may never be more than average, even if he continues to work hard at it. So he isn’t a perennial All-Star candidate because of his lack of a plus defensive tool, but his bat alone could get him some vote ins. Overall, Arenado is probably the answer to 3B that the Rockies have been looking for and after a Futures Game nod in 2011, he has his sites set on the future now.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our on going series Touch’em All | Appalachian League and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.