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Arenado strokes first Double-A homer
Rockies' top prospect blasts eventual game-winner in eighth
04/15/2012 9:27 PM ET
Nolan Arenado is fifth in the Texas League with a 1.109 OPS.
Nolan Arenado is fifth in the Texas League with a 1.109 OPS. (Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com)
Nolan Arenado had already accomplished a lot for Double-A Tulsa heading into Sunday's game against Corpus Christi. He was hitting .371 over his first nine contests and had put together three multi-hit games, including a 4-for-5, three-RBI season opener April 5.

But it wasn't until Sunday that the Rockies' No. 1 prospect homered in his Texas League career.

Arenado slammed his first Double-A home run -- an eighth-inning game-winner -- to lead the Drillers to a 2-1 win over the Hooks. The third baseman, who will turn 21 on Monday, went 2-for-3 at the plate with the solo four-bagger to improve his early-season average to .395. He has eight RBIs so far this season.

"The home run was big because it helped us get the win, and that is the main thing," said Arenado. "It was real exciting and hopefully there is more to come."

The 2011 California League All-Star hit 20 home runs for Class A Advanced Modesto, a personal best at the professional level, while his 122 RBIs in 134 games led all Minor Leaguers.

"My goal is always just getting the runner in," said Arenado in a February Prospect Q&A with MiLB.com. "I take pride in getting my RBIs and that's what I really want. I've got make sure that I do whatever I can do to help the team win, a sac fly or whatever it is. I've got to get that run in. It doesn't matter how, I just have to put the ball in play.

"I'm developing a lot more power, but my goal out there isn't to hit more home runs. I would obviously like to hit more, but I'm not changing my swing. I'm hoping to keep things the same, and then everything will work out from there. I'm always trying to drive in more runs."

Arenado continued his 2011 offensive hot streak in the Arizona Fall League, where he earned Most Valuable Player honors after leading the league in hits (47), doubles (12) and extra-base hits (18). Combined with his 2011 stat line, Arenado's performance in Arizona vaulted him to become MLB.com's No. 22 prospect.

The Rockies' second-round pick in 2009 also showed off defensive ability Sunday. Tulsa hurler Josh Sullivan forced Corpus Christi center fielder Brandon Barnes to hit a slow chopper up the third-base line to lead off the ninth. Arenado sprinted from his position at the hot corner, grabbed the bouncing ball with his bare throwing hand and just threw out a hustling Barnes for the first out.

"I've been working on my range and I have been doing a lot of footwork stuff," Arenado said in February. "It's helped me a lot. I've been taking ground balls constantly this offseason and I've been working on getting stronger and getting a little bit quicker -- not just straight running speed, but laterally."

Tulsa leadoff hitter Josh Rutledge went 2-for-4 on Sunday and has seven hits in 15 at-bats over his last four games. Nick Schmidt allowed one run on five hits over six strong innings, but didn't factor into the decision for his second straight start.

Corpus Christi starter Jake Buchanan also allowed only one run over six innings but didn't get a decision. Hooks' No. 3 hitter Jake Goebbert went 2-for-4 with a solo home run.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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