This year’s Arizona Fall League featured some of the game’s most high-profile hitting prospects, most notably Bryce Harper of the Nationals, Mike Trout of the Angels and Wil Myers of the Royals, but Rockies’ prospect third baseman Nolan Arenado was the one who stole the show.
Before this afternoon’s title game between the Surprise Saguaros and Salt River Rafters, Arenado was presented with the league’s Joe Black MVP Award.
Previous Arizona Fall League MVPs include Dustin Ackley and Tommy Hanson.
Arenado batted .388/.423/.636 with six home runs, 33 RBI and a 1.059 OPS over 29 AFL games. The 20-year-old hit safely in 26 games and led the league with 47 hits and 12 doubles. He even hit a solo homer in the third inning this afternoon.
Selected in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Arenado has a .302/.346/.483 batting line over parts of three seasons in the minor leagues. The right-handed hitter enjoyed a breakout year in 2011, batting .298/.349/.487 with 20 home runs, 122 RBI, a 47/53 K/BB ratio and an .836 OPS over 583 plate appearances with High-A Modesto. According to Bill Mitchell of Baseball America, “Arizona Fall League observers” now consider him a potential above-average defender at third base.
While Arenado is unlikely to earn a starting job with the Rockies out of spring training, he could make an impact at the major league level at some point in 2012.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.