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.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.