KANSAS CITY -- Nolan Arenado was minding his own business during batting practice preceding Sunday's Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game when he received a visitor.The man who approached Arenado was none other than George Brett -- manager of the U.S. team, Hall of Famer and certified local legend. Needless to say, when Brett spoke, Arenado listened. "He came up to me," said Arenado, Colorado's top-ranked prospect according to MLB.com who is currently performing for the Rockies' Double-A Tulsa affiliate. "So that was pretty cool." As a third baseman, Arenado felt a kinship with Brett, who played the same position. But the real subject was hitting. "He told me, don't worry about hits. Don't worry about home runs," Arenado said. "Just worry about hitting the ball hard and that's all you have to do. Once you do that, everything will fall into place and the balls will drop." Accustomed to generating offense, it was no surprise that Arenado continued to do so for the U.S. squad in its 17-5 victory. Arenado went 1-for-3 while playing the final five innings.
"I took some good swings today," he said.Arenado lined out to right field in the fifth inning, singled up the middle and scored in the U.S.'s nine-run sixth and reached on a fielding error in the seventh. So he made solid contact twice in three at bats. Asked if that was an acceptable ratio, particularly after listening to Brett preach the gospel of mashing the ball, Arenado replied, "Absolutely." Hitting the ball authoritatively has been more of a challenge this year for Arenado, who led the Minors with 122 RBIs last year at Class A Modesto. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and won Most Valuable Player honors while batting .388 with a league-best 47 hits, beating out stars such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Arenado's production has tapered off this season with Tulsa, though his numbers remain respectable. The right-handed swinger is batting .282 with seven home runs and 38 RBIs in 82 games. Arenado praised the quality of Texas League pitching.
"There's more consistent arms," he said. "They hit their spots. They throw everything for strikes and that makes it tough."This was the second straight Futures appearance for Arenado, 21. He went 1-for-2 with an RBI double that drove in the final U.S. run in its 6-4 victory last year. "It was just as special, maybe even more special this year," he said. "Whenever you get invited twice to something that's big like this, that means a lot. It's awesome. These guys are going to be in the big leagues someday and that's pretty cool to play with them."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.