DENVER—Roving hitting coordinator Jim Johnson is drawn to two numbers when statistically summarizing third baseman Nolan Arenado's professional debut at Rookie-level Casper.
"He had 16 walks and 18 strikeouts," Johnson said. "That's phenomenal for a kid out of high school going into pro ball. And he had a tremendous instructional league. We got a great draft there."
The Rockies chose Arenado, 18, in the second round out of El Toro (Calif.) High. He hit .300/.351/.404 at Casper in 54 games. Arenado, who nudged his average up to .300 with a single on his final at-bat in Casper's last game of the season, then was named the MVP in the Rockies instructional league program.
"He'll give you a good at-bat," farm director Marc Gustafson said. "He plays solid defense. He plays hard. He has energy. He's a leader. There's so many good things for us to say about this young man, and obviously he showed up extremely well for us in the instructional league program . . . I don't want it to seem like I'm going overboard, but I am; that's how impressive he was to me."
What's particularly impressive about Arenado is his two-strike approach, which Johnson said. "Coming in, it's probably better than a lot of my other (more experienced) guys. He believes in it."
Johnson said Arenado is very adept at staying inside the ball, "almost to a fault sometimes." He was hitting almost everything inside-out to right field, to the point where in instructional league Johnson told Arenado that there was nothing wrong with occasionally hitting a ball to left field.
"He's a big strong kid . . . and he got it right away," Johnson said. "He started hitting balls to left-center, hitting some balls out once he figured out he could make contact out front. You're still staying inside the ball. It's just that you don't have to fillet it over second all the time."
• Chuck Kniffin resigned after four seasons as pitching coach for Triple-A Colorado Springs to spend more time with his elderly father, who has health issues.
• Righthander Esmil Rogers, 1-1, 3.86 in six starts for Licey in the Dominican League, was averaging 1.8 walks per nine innings, a marked improvement from Colorado Springs, where he averaged 5.2 walks per nine to finish the season.