The Nolan Arenado era in Colorado begins today. After last night's loss to the Diamondbacks, the Rockies announced that third baseman Chris Nelson had been designated for assignment and that Arenado would be called up from AAA Colorado Springs. In 21 games this year, the 27 year old Nelson had a .242/.282/.312 line to go along with no home runs and poor defense at third base once again.
Arenado, universally one of the top three prospects in the Rockies farm system, will provide a definite offensive upgrade over Nelson. In 18 games this year with Colorado Springs, Arenado has a .364/.392/.667 line, homering three times for the Sky Sox. He made a push in Spring Training to win the starting third base job, but eventually lost out to Nelson.
While it's not really prudent to scout minor league box scores, it's especially unwise with Arenado, due to him playing in the hitter-friendly PCL. In addition to nine home games at his ridiculous hitter-friendly home park in Colorado Springs, the Sky Sox and Arenado have played road games in Las Vegas, Reno, and Tucson this season, three of the highest altitude parks in the league. Ten of the next 16 Rockies games are away from Coors Field, so there's a very real possibility that Arenado struggles away from the friendly confines of the PCL.
But realistically, he's still a much better option at third than the light-hitting Nelson, who needed a .374 BABIP last season to put together a respectible triple slash. Nelson split time at third last year with Jordan Pacheco, who is playing first base for Colorado right now with the aging Todd Helton out of action.
After starting the year 13-4 to the shock of many (myself included), the Rockies are 2-5 in their last seven games. With the way their schedule looks over the next month, it's not out of the realm of possibility for Colorado to be in fourth place in the NL West at the end of May. By installing Arenado at thrid now, the Rockies are banking on him being another potent bat in their already stout lineup, enabling to just slug teams to death instead of letting dead spots in the lineup overwhelm their solid core.