Rancho Cucamonga, California —— Jonah Arenado has been through this place before. As the broad-shouldered first baseman takes batting practice for the San Jose Giants on the road at LoanMart Field, or even two weeks earlier at The Hangar in Lancaster, there’s a familiarity to all these towns—to the parks, the clubhouses, the opponents, the media members, even the fans.

Familiarity in the minor leagues is bad, of course. Nobody wants to repeat a level, and Arenado would rather be up in Double-A Richmond, especially considering he slugged 17 homers and 36 dobules last summer with these same San Jose Giants on the way to a Team MVP honor for the club. But the 22-year-old—yes, he is the younger brother of a certain big league superstar—isn’t caught up on the familiarity of the California League; he has things to do right here.


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“Obviously I want to move up, but I know there are some things in my game that I need to work on, and if they think I can work on them better here, let’s go,” Arenado told Baseball Census during a recent interview. “I really try not to let that get in my head too much. Wherever I go, I have to perform, so whether it’s this year here, or last year, or Double-A, I know they expect me to put up numbers wherever I’m at.”

A first baseman by trade who’s also adept at third, Jonah Arenado is slowly blossoming into what the San Francisco Giants hope will be a significant source of raw power. With a swing tailored to hard contact and line drives, and the strength behind it to drive the ball a long way, early in his career Arenado has flashed his potential enough to start gaining notice for more than being the little brother. But let’s be real here, too: even though he was just 21 years old in the Cal League last summer, he struck out 110 times and walked only 18 in 128 games in San Jose. That’s not an acceptable ratio for a power-hitting corner infielder.



“I really need to cut down on strikeouts, or if I’m going to strike out that much, I better walk a lot more,” he acknowledged. “Obviously it comes down to being more consistent, and being more patient. Not walking was my downfall last year. If I’m striking out a lot in the Cal League, I’m only going to have more trouble in Double-A. I need to show them that I can walk more and strikeout less, and if I do that and stay in my game plan, everything will fall into place.”

There’s a challenge to this for an aggressive hitter like Jonah Arenado; free swinging has him striking out too much for his tastes, but it also grew his power numbers in 2016. Being patient will push him to walk more, but as he holds back to improve his on-base numbers, he’s letting hittable pitches go early in counts. There’s an art to picking your spots wisely, and Jonah—who has started slowly in 2017, slashing .216/.285/.288/.573 through his first 32 games—must re-discover the nuances of that approach every night.


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“I know there are times when I think I’m seeing the ball really well and I’m walking more than usual, but when I go through those phases I feel like I’m not being aggressive enough to swing and drive the pitches I need to be hitting,” he admitted. “But then if I’m too aggressive, I’ll go up there hacking, and I’m not really seeing what’s happening. I’m just seeing the fastball and saying ‘go,’ instead of waiting for my pitch and sticking to my plan. I have to find that happy medium between aggressive and selective.”

As Jonah Arenado strikes his own balance in San Jose, he’s at least providing a bit of it for some other San Francisco Giants prospects who have never been here before. A veteran of the Cal League now at just 22, he’s become a go-to on this squad for advice on the bigger picture of how to play in High-A, and on specific things like how to take an approach on the road in Lancaster without trying to hit every ball out of the park.

“[Arenado] let us know about this park [Lancaster], and he was kind of like, ‘you know, the ball flies here, but if you come in with that mindset, you are going to dig yourself into a hole,’” San Francisco Giants prospect Dillon Dobson told Baseball Census about Jonah Arenado during one of San Jose’s road trips through Lancaster early in April. “For me to learn from a guy like that who has been here and done this before, it’s a big key. He’s very open, and he really tries to help a lot of us out. He played here every day last year, and it’s been everything little thing with him. Maybe he’s seen a pitcher before, or he knows how a team likes to pitch, or even the parks.”



There’s a natural, easy leadership to Arenado like that, even as he goes through his own trials in the Cal League. Expectations are high and name recognition persists for him, especially on the road as he hears it endlessly from hecklers, but the first baseman has thus far been able to block it all out and keep his focus on trying to find that happy medium between aggressive and selective.

“I know I have enough power to play first base, and I know I can grow into that more and more, but it’s more about just being consistent enough to go out and stick to my game plan,” Arenado concluded. “If I stick to my game plan, do what I need to do to prove myself again down here, and put the swings on the ball that I know I can, I don’t have to worry about the numbers.”


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Click here to read our full scouting report of San Francisco Giants prospect Jonah Arenado; to visit Jonah Arenado’s baseball player page, please click here.


In this Jonah Arenado / San Francisco Giants feature:

San Francisco Giants | San Jose Giants | Lancaster JetHawks | Rancho Cucamonga Quakes | Dillon Dobson | Jonah Arenado

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  1. […] San Francisco Giants: Jonah Arenado seeking a balance of patience and power in return to San Jose […]

  2. […] If the last time you checked in on San Francisco Giants prospect Jonah Arenado was back in May, surely you’re as surprised as we are at the sustained, significant surge he enjoyed over the final few months of 2017. Bottoming out at an ugly .197/.265/.262/.527 slash […]

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