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Cal notes: Arenado focuses on footwork05/04/2011 10:00 AM ET
By Chris Martinez / Special to MLB.com
Modesto Nuts third baseman Nolan Arenado has proven himself at the plate since the Colorado Rockies selected him in the second round of the 2009 Draft. His next goal is to prove that he can handle the hot corner.
The Rockies are helping Arenado make that happen by working with him on his defense and range at third, focusing on his lateral movement.
"My range is better laterally," Arenado said. "I'm getting to balls I couldn't [get to] last year."
He also lost weight during the offseason thanks to a diet plan prescribed by the Rockies.
"I feel like this is the best shape I've been in my entire career, and I'm ready to prove people wrong," he said.
Arenado has used his experience at shortstop in high school to get the rhythm of playing the infield down.
"[At] corner infield spots, the ball gets there quicker," he said. "You have more time to throw [than at shortstop].
"I love third base," he added. "It's where I've always wanted to play."
Arenado hit better than .300 in each of his first two seasons, first with short-season Casper in 2009 and then last year with Class A Asheville. His power jumped in 2010 to 12 home runs and 41 doubles in 373 at-bats.
Arenado said he doesn't try to hit home runs, and he gave credit to McCormick Field in Asheville as a good park for hitting. He focuses on hitting line drives instead and is second on Nuts team with seven doubles.
Colorado is known for excellent prospects at every level, and Arenado thrives on the internal competition.
"It's perfect," he said. "It's what you need to make it. It helps you play better. You don't want to be in an organization where you're the only guy and it's easy. There are a lot of guys in the organization that want my spot."
Arenado took one more step toward cementing his position at third by making a great play Wednesday against San Jose. Giants third baseman Chris Dominguez hit a slow roller up the third-base line. Arenado charged the ball, made a barehanded pickup and gunned Dominguez down at first with a strong throw.
Arenado earned a reward for his brilliant play: a yellow shirt. He explained that Nuts players who make good plays during games get to wear the yellow shirt during pregame infield practice the following day. The shirt stands out among the maroon-and-black warm-up gear the Nuts wear during batting practice and infield drills.
Top of the Dodgers class: Rancho Cucamonga RHP Allen Webster is outperforming the other Los Angeles Dodgers prospects on the Quakes staff. Webster leads the Quakes with 29 1/3 innings pitched and is second on the club in strikeouts with 31. He won Pitcher of the Week honors for throwing six shutout innings with eight strikeouts against High Desert on April 29. He has allowed three runs -- two earned -- over his last three starts.
Staying grounded: Lancaster RHP Jake Buchanan tossed a shutout May 1 for his third win of the year. He allowed four hits and three walks while lowering his ERA to 1.47 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. Buchanan is building a reputation as a workhorse, pitching at least seven innings in four of his five starts this year.
Marte is marvelous: San Jose LHP Kelvin Marte is 3-1 with a league-leading 0.94 ERA after holding Lake Elsinore to one run over six innings May 1. Marte has never made more than seven starts in a season since he signed with the Giants as a teenager in 2007. The left-hander has five starts in 2011 and looks to establish himself as a legitimate starting pitcher prospect for San Francisco.