Royals Prospect Review: Christian Colon


Christian Colon is a polarizing prospect.

Fans and writers tend to agree on the potential of success for players like Wil Myers or Mike Montgomery and usually there isn’t much disparity of opinion about other first round picks like Aaron Crow or Mike Moustakas. There are differences in the degree of success expected, sure, but Colon, 2009’s first round pick and fourth overall, has supporters who think he’ll be a good major leaguer and those who think that he isn’t anything special.

After being selected out of Cal State Fullerton, Colon signed quickly and was put right into action, starting at Wilmington and having a decent season for his situation. In 271 plate appearances, he had a .278/.328/.380 line.

The prevailing idea about Colon is that he was the most major-league ready player in the 2009 draft. A leader in college and other offseason teams and with good bat control, he had the skill and makeup to impress many. When the Royals landed the fourth overall pick, they were in a rough spot with three elite talents gone and a mixed bag of player to choose from. They took Colon largely based on his supposed ability to rise quickly and be a solid major leaguer.

He was a sort of safe pick and his ceiling isn’t what would be expected of most fourth overall selections, but he’s considered a player who can play solid defense up the middle and should hit with power developing as he gains experience. He’s not a bad player, necessarily, but he’s a bit underwhelming for what he projects to be. Concerns over his long-term ability to stick at shortstop dull his prospect shine as well.

His solid start as a pro earned him a shot at Double A and Colon held his own but didn’t progress much at a higher level. He increased his walk rate but his slugging and batting average decreased. He became a more active base-stealer and didn’t strike out often. For a 22-year-old just over a year out of college, it was a perfectly acceptable season, but, again, not one to really wow a lot of fans or scouts. He started slowly in the Arizona Fall League this offseason, but ended up finishing strong for a .299/.365/.429 batting line. If you put much stock into AFL numbers, that’s the first sign of progress he’s shown and gives hope for his reaching his potential.

Because of his enigmatic standing, he’s been part of the discussion on the Royalman Report, where Clint Scoles suggested that moving to Werner Park next year may help his numbers, since it plays better for right-handed hitters and Arvest Ballpark (where Colon spent 2011) is more of a left-handed hitter’s park. Kevin Goldstein said he would have taken Chris Sale but that the Royals were in a tough spot at their draft spot and that Colon may be in Kansas City as early as this September if things work out. He has the potential of being a solid but not spectacular big league player and an easy comparison is to Orlando Cabrera – someone who can play good defense and make some contact, but won’t stand out much beyond that.

Colon will probably open up the year in Omaha and could be a utility infielder starting in September. After that, the Royals have a situation as they must figure out where he fits within the middle infield, where Johnny Giavotella and Alcides Escobar currently reside. The Royals also have Yamaico Navarro available to play any of the infield positions as well. For a change, though, the Royals have some depth to spare so if a trade opportunity presents itself or an injury occurs, they have players to fill in if necessary.