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Arenado named Arizona Fall League MVP

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Nolan Arenado has the chance to finally take a breath and look at his 2011 season, he should feel pretty good about all that he accomplished.

The Rockies' third-base prospect went to the All-Star Futures game in Phoenix in July, was a California League All-Star and led all Minor League hitters in RBIs. And on Saturday, for icing on that very large cake, Arenado was presented with the Arizona Fall League's Joe Black MVP Award prior to the championship game.

"There were a lot of great players in this league," an appreciative Arenado said. "Mike Olt had a really good year and [could've been the choice]. I'm just blessed that the Rockies allowed me to come out here and play."

Arenado led the AFL in hits and doubles, tied for the lead in extra-base hits, ranked second in total bases and RBIs, finished third in average, tied for third in home runs and finished fifth in slugging percentage.

Olt was his stiffest competition for the award, having topped the league in both homers and RBIs, along with some other offensive categories. The Padres' Jedd Gyorko -- who won the batting title -- as well as Olt's Surprise teammates Kevin Mattison (Marlins) and Wil Myers (Royals) also received votes from the managers and coaches who determined the winner.

AFL MVP Recipients
Nolan Arenado, who hit .388 with six homers and 33 RBIs in the AFL, is the first Rockies player to win the Joe Black MVP Award.
Year Player MLB Team Pos. AFL Team
2011 Nolan Arenado Rockies 3B Salt River Rafters
2010 Dustin Ackley Mariners 2B Peoria Javelinas
2009 Grant Desme A's OF Phoenix Desert Dogs
2008 Tommy Hanson Braves RHP Mesa Solar Sox
2007 Sam Fuld Cubs OF Mesa Solar Sox
2006 Chip Cannon Blue Jays 1B Phoenix Desert Dogs
2005 Eric Duncan Yankees 3B Grand Canyon Rafters
2004 Chris Shelton Tigers DH Grand Canyon Rafters
2003 Jason Dubois Cubs OF Mesa Solar Sox
2002 Ken Harvey Royals 1B Scottsdale Scoripions
Arenado wasn't making up for lost at-bats, or anything of that nature. The 2009 second-round Draft pick played 134 games in the California League during the regular season, amassing 517 ABs. Still, he couldn't wait for the chance to show what he could do against a higher level of competition in Arizona.

"I was tired, but I got to go home for a week before I came out here," Arenado said. "I was excited. This was a great opportunity. The Rockies were sending me because they think I can play with these guys. That gives me confidence, knowing that they have confidence in me. I'm happy to be here. I've shown what I can do and I'm really thankful that they sent me here.

"I'm very happy. Baseball is a crazy game. You can go well and then you can go bad, so it's been pretty cool to be consistent through the whole thing."

While his performance in the Fall League is obviously a small sample size, his ability to excel here -- he hit safely in 26 of 29 games and had two separate hitting streaks of 10 or more games -- has helped begin to answer the one question that some might have had about his regular-season output. It's not his fault, but any time someone puts up big numbers in the Cal League, skeptics will wonder just how much the performance was a product of his environment.

"I understood that," Arenado said about the perception of the league as being a hitter's paradise. "I knew when it was happening. The pitchers here are really good. I know when I go to the next level, I'll have confidence in myself that I'm going to have a good season. I expect a lot out of myself. It's always tough to go up, and that's why I have to get better at what I do."

An MVP season, no matter how short, typically involves winning. Arenado helped Salt River do just that, as it clinched its division with nearly a week to spare. His Modesto Nuts made the postseason, but got bounced in the first round, so Arenado was happy to get the chance to play for a title here.

"It's a lot of fun," Arenado said. "We're tired, but the good thing is that we have the drive to win it. Knowing we have a chance for a ring, it's pretty cool. We didn't come here for two months just to mess around. We came here to win."

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado