Who: Christian Anthony Colon
DOB: 5/14/1989, Cayey, Puerto Rico
Weight: 180 lb
Acquired: 2010 Draft – 1st Round, #4 overall
~ Baseball America: #6
~ Royals Prospects: #7
~ Royals Review: #9
~ Kevin Goldstein: #8
~ John Sickels: #11 B
The Royals found themselves in an odd place in the 2010 draft. Picking fourth in a draft with a slam dunk top three and a murky remainder, they opted for the safest pick possible in drafting Christian Colon.
It’s not that Colon was a bad player, or even boring. He just doesn’t offer as much upside as others in the draft might have. The trade-off is that he’s a good bet to make the majors. After solid production at Cal State Fullerton, he also fit a position of need* for the Royals, who at that time only had Jeff Bianchi and Rey Navarro as highly ranked prospects at shortstop.
*Not that this is an advocation of the practice.
Colon combines tools with production, with good bat control and is very balanced. His bat will make him a solid major league middle infielder and he could develop decent power too. At the very least, he’ll have good gap-hitting ability. Baseball America sees him as a solid option for the #2 spot in a lineup. He doesn’t stand out in any one area, but his consistency will be valuable on its own.
Obviously, he’ll have more value at a premium position like shortstop. The Royals are going to give him every chance to stick there despite the acquisition of Alcides Escobar in December. He’s not a fast player, so his range may not be enough to remain at short, but he’s got a good enough glove to play it for now. Most scouts think he’ll be a second baseman in the majors and Colon is fine with that if that’s howit happens.
The consensus is that if Colon moves to second, he’ll have a plus glove at the position to go with his bat. What Colon might lack in true shortstop ability, he makes up for with a good feel for the game and great instincts. You’re gonna hate the phrase, but he’s a guy who “gets the most out of his tools” – I know it reeks of a Willie Bloomquist comparison, but Colon at least has solid tools to begin with.
Because Colon signed very soon after the draft, he was able to spend a good amount of time in Wilmington. The thought on Colon has been that he’d be a fast mover through the minors and getting that experience right away backs that up. He’s likely to start the year in Double A and could make the jump to the big leagues sometime in 2012 or 2013.
What I find interesting is what his selection means for the Royals. At the time, Zack Greinke had made no public comments about being dissatisfied with the team yet and the thought of trading him wasn’t much more than a two hour Twitter conversation. Now, after a busy offseason, the Royals find themselves with a logjam up the middle. It’s not a bad problem to have, really, but they’ll have to decide if they like Johnny Giavotella‘s offensive abilities more than Colon’s glove at second (assuming he makes shift, which I think is inevitable). There’s a chance that they can’t go wrong with either option. There’s also the chance that they guess completely wrong.
Colon’s selection also hints that the Royals front office thinks he could ascend to the majors quickly and would also help during the period where Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers are all in their first couple years as big leaguers. That suggests a lot of faith in his abilities. An infield of Moustakas-Escobar-Colon-Hosmer to open up 2012 or 2013 would be a nice looking crew. Mostly, though, as Sam Mellinger suggests, Colon’s selection indicates that the Royals are formulating what their roster will look like when things start to click and finding players that complement the already stacked talent coming up. Maybe that’s a good thing because the Royals have the highest confidence in their prospects. Maybe it’s a bad thing because they’re missing opportunities to find high-ceiling talent and settling for best-case role players.
With Colon, the Royals have a top prospect from last year’s Carolina League. After a slow start, Colon pieced together a bland but reasonable season for a first year pro making a jump to High A. He didn’t strike out much, though he also didn’t walk much. He draws comparisons to Placido Polanco, Mike Fontenot, Martin Prado, Orlando Hudson – so he’s all over the board comp-wise, but the general idea is he’ll play as a light-hitting middle infielder with enough pop to keep outfielders from creeping too far in. From here on out, he may be in competition with Johnny Giavotella for the future second base job.
After he was drafted, I was able to see Colon play in a couple of games during the College World Series, and he afforded himself well:
I watched the Cal State Fullerton/Minnesota game last night, Colon’s first since being drafted earlier that evening. Sure, it’s just one game, but he did seem to be the kind of catalyst that does just what’s asked of him at the top of the lineup and does the little things to help his team win. In the first inning, he was hit by the first pitch of the game. After a balk moved him to second base, he advanced to third on a grounder to second and scored on single by the next batter.
He struck out in his next at bat, which is actually quite rare for him, as he’s only struck out 65 times in his three years at CSFU, covering more than 725 at bats. He singled with the bases loaded to drive in two his next time up, drilled a double into the gap in his next at bat, then stretched a single into a double in his final at bat. His final line: 3-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 doubles. Not bad.
Thankfully, our own Kevin Scobee, being a California guy, has seen Colon in action live a few times and I’ll let him finish off the report with his observations:
There have been plenty of comparisons made between Christian Colon and current major leaguer Ronnie Belliard. Let me ease the fears of Royals fans that hear that comparison and cringe: Colon is not Ronnie Belliard.
As is the case with most prospect comps throughout the baseball-evaluation landscape, the comparisons only go so far as to give a reader the idea of what a player looks like, not what a player plays like.
While Colon may not fit the mold of the typical shortstop in stature, after seeing him for play at Cal State Fullerton last year, you can see why he was regarded as one of the better overall talents in the 2010 draft. He’s a “ballplayer” and as much as I hate that term because it doesn’t really mean anything – much like “plays the game the right way” – you know what it means when used, and Colon certainly is that.
He’ll never be confused for fast, but Colon is a superior athlete on the field and it shows with his elite footwork and exceptional balance. What he lacks in lateral range he makes up for by putting his body in a position to field and throw in one smooth, seamless action. Because of his footwork he’s able to use his best weapon, his arm, to make plays look easier than they should given his limited range.
At the plate Colon got himself out in early counts by swinging at offspeed and breaking stuff against lesser competition, but as is the case with many ultra-talented college players that was more likely a case of being frustrated by the talent level of his competition and not a reflection of his overall skills.
When zoned-in he shows very quick hands that work extremely well – especially on the inner-half of the plate – staying inside the ball and keeping the bat through the zone after contact. Even though he showed homerun power with an aluminum bat, we’re probably looking at more modest homerun output in the big leagues with above-average doubles numbers.
When Colon finally reaches his peak he’ll probably be a player who isn’t as one of the top second baseman in baseball talent-wise, but because he’s a solid all-around talent his consistency will allow him to produce like one.
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