SAL notes: Arenado finds his own road

Augusta third baseman motivated by success of big league brother

A 16th-round pick by the Giants in 2013, Jonah Arenado is batting .267 with a team-high 27 RBIs. (Augusta GreenJackets)

By Bill Ballew / Special to MiLB.com | June 4, 2015 10:00 AM

There was a time early in his high school days when Jonah Arenado was unsure of what he wanted to pursue in life. He was even uncertain of wanting to have a career in baseball, even though his ability and bloodlines suggested that route was realistic.

The youngest of three siblings, Arenado says the light started to come on as he saw the family's middle son, Nolan, progress rapidly through the Minor Leagues. In 2011, when Nolan was at Class A Advanced Modesto, Jonah spent two weeks hanging around his brother with the California League club and had the opportunity to take batting practice and field ground balls. Shortly thereafter, Nolan was selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game for the first time, an accomplishment that made an impression on Jonah.

"My first couple of years in high school, I didn't know if I wanted to play baseball," said Arenado, who attended El Toro High in Southern California and is manning third base this season for the Augusta GreenJackets. "I wasn't sure if that was my future. But after seeing what my brother went through, that really motivated me. I started working a little harder, and then I really began to get after it. I wasn't the greatest student in school, so by the end I realized that baseball would probably be the best route for me."

The resemblances between the two brothers are obvious. Both are lean and muscular, although at 6-foot-4, Jonah is about two inches taller than Nolan, who is four years older. They both have power from the right side of the plate and play third base, the position where Nolan has captured the National League Gold Glove in each of the past two seasons.

"He's definitely been a big influence on me," said Jonah, who turned 20 earlier this year, on Feb. 3. "His work ethic and the way he goes about his business have paved a good path for me, showing me what I need to do. We work out every day together in the offseason, and we talk a good bit during the season. There's no doubt I wouldn't be where I am without him."

Nolan was a second-round pick of the Rockies in 2009, then Jonah was a 16th-round selection of the San Francisco Giants in 2013. Arenado's first two years with the defending world champions were spent in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he batted .211/.263/.286 in 12 games in 2013 and .250/.304/.340 with 21 RBIs in 50 contests last season.

Promoted to Augusta out of Spring Training in April, Arenado has made a smooth adjustment to the full-season ranks at the plate and in the field. Through June 2, he led the GreenJackets with 27 RBIs, a mark tied for eighth in the South Atlantic League, and had one-fourth of his team's home runs with six. Overall, he was batting .267/.299/.406 with 25 runs scored, eight doubles and a triple. He also has played well at the hot corner, although Arenado is the first to admit he has a ways to go before he matches his brother's fielding abilities.

"So far everything is going well," Arenado said. "I think the biggest focus this past offseason and coming into this year was to stick with the same plan no matter what. Even when things are going bad, I'm not trying to change too much. I want to keep the same approach and plan, and that's to hit line drives to all fields."

In brief

Sending 'em home: Delmarva outfielder Conor Bierfeldt continues to make the most of his opportunities to drive in runs. Despite posting a .243 batting average on the season, the Western Connecticut State product leads the SAL (and ranks sixth in the Minor Leagues) with 45 RBIs, 11 more than second-place Jordan Edgerton of Rome. Bierfeldt had seven home runs and 28 RBIs in May after driving in 17 runs with no round-trippers in April.

Hagerstown hit machine: Suns middle infielder Osvaldo Abreu equaled the longest hitting streak in the SAL this season at 15 games when he went 2-for-4 against Kannapolis on May 31. Abreu is batting .306 during the stretch with nine doubles, a triple, one home run and six RBIs. He also has improved his batting average from .272 to .286. Abreu joins teammates Jeff Gardner (May 15-29) and Alec Keller (April 23-May 10) in reaching the 15-game mark thus far in 2015.

Tough day: Asheville infielder Josh Fuentes had a hard time at the hot corner during an 11-3 loss to Augusta on May 31. Fuentes committed five errors, including three throwing miscues, to set a South Atlantic League record for the most errors in a single game by a third baseman. Fuentes has split his time between the two corner infield positions and entered the contest with only four errors on the season. To his credit, he didn't take his fielding woes to the plate, where he was 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Hoskins named top Phil: Lakewood first baseman Rhys Hoskins was named Philadelphia's Minor League Player of the Month for May after he batted .342 with 13 multi-hit games in 29 outings, including 23 RBIs, 18 runs scored and a .908 OPS. The fifth-round pick out of Cal State Sacramento in 2014 concluded the month with a seven-game hitting streak. Through games of June 2, he led the SAL with 97 total bases and a .407 on-base percentage, ranked second with a .513 slugging percentage and 62 hits and was third with 33 RBIs and a .328 batting average.

Bill Ballew is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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