The KC Royals made then shortstop Christian Colon the no. 4 overall pick of the 2010 amateur draft. Now 27 and out of minor-league options, Colon pretty much has to establish himself as a major league starter or else accept a career as a utility infielder.
The Kansas City Royals took Cal State Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon in the 2010 draft despite hot rumors that they would take future Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale. At the time, the Royals believed that Colon had well-developed hitting skills that would allow him to advance quickly through the minor league system.
Not so fast.
Instead, it took Colon four full seasons before earning a shot at major-league baseball. By that time, the front office had signed Omar Infante to a four-year deal to fill the team’s long-term hole at second base rather than trust that Colon could fill the position. Three-years later, Omar Infante is out the door, and the KC Royals still have not found a solution at second. This spring, Christian Colon is trying to win the starting gig along with converted third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, versatile super sub Whit Merrifield, and former top prospect Raul Mondesi.
Christian Colon arrived for spring training at Surprise, Arizona as this year’s “best shape of his life” story. Colon worked out with fitness freak Alex Gordon during the winter and claimed to have cut eight percent of his body fat. Whether or not his physical conditioning work will help him perform on the field remains to be seen.
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But, at least, it’s clear that Colon knows what’s at stake this spring. It’s now or never if he wants to seize a starting job in Kansas City. Colon told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
"“I feel great,” Colon said. “I feel a lot stronger. I’m getting lower on ground balls. I feel like I’m swinging better, getting to the ball better. I feel good with my range. I worked a lot on my agility. I feel like I’m moving a lot better.”"
Colon has been unexceptional at the plate and in the field over his three-year career. He’s a .268 hitter in 299 regular season at bats with a modest .666 career OPS. He struggled at the plate last season slashing an anemic .231/.294/.293 in a career high 147 at bats. However, he still produced a decent 0.6 bWAR due to good defense.
If Colon can’t win the starting second base job, he could find himself playing for another team. Whit Merrifield, who can play seven positions, is a far more versatile bench player than Christian Colon. While Colon is a viable utility infielder who can handle third, short, and second, that’s a far cry from a Swiss Army Knife like Merrifield. If Merrifield wins the job, then the 24-year old Cuthbert has more upside and is also out of minor-league options.
You’d have to think that the Kansas City Royals would then try to deal Colon to another team.
While Christian Colon wouldn’t draw a big return. He’d have SOME value. Colon has at the very least proven that he can come off the bench to get the big hit under pressure. In the 2014 Wild Card game, Colon not only drove in the tying run with a one out single in the bottom of the 12th inning to prevent elimination, but also scored the winning run on Salvador Perez‘s two-out single. In 2015, Colon drove in the winning run in in the 12th inning of Game 5 that gave the Royals their second World Championship in franchise history.
Christian Colon has already earned an honored place in Kansas City Royals history for those two big hits. But, he clearly wants more.
Most analysts consider Whit Merrifield the favorite to open the season at second base. But, don’t count Christian Colon out.