SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Third-base prospect Nolan Arenado had a big day Thursday, doubling in a run to give the Rockies the early lead, then a half-inning later starting a heads-up triple play on a one-hopper toward the line.
With Jeff Francis pitching his third inning of the day and having allowed a pair of leadoff singles to open the frame, Arenado -- the Rockies' No. 2 prospect -- grabbed a grounder off the bat of Zack Cozart on the bounce, stepped on third base, fired to Eric Young Jr. at second, and watched Young turn and throw beautifully off-balance to catch Cozart by a half step when Henry Wrigley snared the ball at first.
"You don't see that very often," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Nice awareness by Nolan, first to go to the bag, and then the throw to second instead of just going across to first."
It was the perfect escape from the mounting jam Francis was facing on the bases, and he had no doubt about the outcome.
"I knew it was a triple play as soon as he caught it," Francis said. "Just because it was a one-hopper to his right. I know Cozart runs pretty well, but I just said, 'No way, this is happening.' I called it. I said to myself, 'Well, this will be nice.'"
Weiss made no such claim of prognostication, but upon hearing of Francis' prescience said, "Well, I'll have to take him to the track.
"When you're trying to get double plays, maybe every once in a while you get a triple play. Good things happen down there."
Arenado is likely to start the season with Triple-A after climbing the ladder from Casper to Asheville, Modesto, and Tulsa over the last four years, but for the second consecutive spring, he is raising eyebrows and expectations.
"He's already made an impression with a lot of people in our organization that have been around him," Weiss said. "He's put himself in a nice position. He's shown that he can play. I wasn't around him last spring, but it looks to me like he's slowing the game down, and his ability is showing up."