Monday, March 3, 2014

Prospect Countdown: #13 Christian Colon

13. Christian Colon Short Stop

Age: 24
Position: SS
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 185
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st Round of the 2010 Amateur Draft
From: Cayey, Puerto Rico

2013 Rank: 12

2012 Rank: 12

Landon Adams (15): The Royals were in an uncomfortable spot at the time of the Amateur Draft in June of 2010. There was a consensus across the league that Bryce Harper would go 1, and he would be followed by Jameson Taillon and Manny Machado. Following that there was a widely held belief that from picks 4-40 anything could happen. 

Entering the draft, we heard the Royals were hot and heavy on Florida Gulf Coast product Chris Sale. While many Royals fans will deny it today the line those fans were pushing at the time is that Sale would wind up as a reliever and so they would be disappointed if the Royals took him at 4th overall. Of course, here we are nearly four years later and Sale has accomplished more as a starter than any player in the draft. 

Following the Sale rumors, we were told on the eve of the draft that the Royals had reached an agreement with catcher Yasmani Grandal. Grandal, who was suspended in 2012 for high levels of testosterone, has only logged 334 plate appearances in the Majors, but has hit .271/.380/.429. In the end, the Royals would go with Cal-State Fullerton prospect Christian Colon with the fourth overall selection.

At the time the pick screamed of picking for need. The Royals whose system was in the midst of an incredible breakout, had yet to determine who would play short stop for the teams of the future. Colon's ceiling was limited, but the Royals expected him to be an average fielder, with excellent power, good contact, and Derek Jeter type leadership qualities. What the Royals have gotten is a slightly below average fielder, very little power, average contact, and leadership qualities that have since been questions. 

I'm hopeful that Christian Colon's second half surge in Omaha is a sign of things to come. But given the organization's decision to not give him a September call-up and to sign Omar Infante to a four year deal this off-season, it is likely a further indictment on the player that he has developed into. At this point, the best case I can see is Colon developing into a utility man. This is not a complete slight on the Royals former 1st round pick. A Placido Polanco type of player can carve out a fantastic career and provide a ton of value. As of now though I think a Polanco ceiling is absolute best case. 

Paden Bennett (8): A once highly touted prospect, Colon's stock has slowly trickled down.  However, Colon still does have skills to offer that can help the Royals at the major league level.  Colon started off slow last year but in the 2nd half he really got hot and hit the ball as well as we have seen from him. In July Colon had a .307/.375/.451 line in 296 at bats.  In August he had a .289/.344/.359 in .290 at bats.  The .451 slug I think was a fluke but I do think he has the potential to hang around the .400 slug mark at some point in his career. 

I was calling for Colon to come up last year instead of Chris Getz coming back from injury or Elliot Johnson.  I think Colon has a nice skillset that can help the Royals at 2B.  He doesn't strike out much (10% clip last year) which is always a good tool to add to a roster.  I think the last 2 or 3 months of last season may be something we see more of this season.

Joe Cox (13): While the shine has certainly worn off of Christian Colon over the years, the 24 year old short stop is getting closer and closer to being a major league contributor.  Colon, once a top prospect in the system, never had the bat or the defense at short to maintain his status as a potentially elite prospect.  Very few prospects ever do live up to their high expectations, and Colon has shown a skillset that can be valuable for the Royals, even if he is not receiving every day at bats. 

In 2013, Colon spent his entire season in AAA.  In 577 PA’s, Colon hit .273/.335/.379.  Colon did have 12 home runs, but compiled only 15 more extra base hits.  Throw in 15 stolen bases and a strikeout rate at just 10% and Colon comes in at a decent year at the plate.  Colon’s bat fits better at short, but reports make me think he would not be able to handle short as an everyday job, but could back up at the position in the majors. 

The Royals decided to give a 4 year contract to Omar Infante this offseason, making it very clear that they do not trust Colon to be an everyday player.  The Royals do have other MI options for the bench, but I think they could do worse than Colon as a guy who will hold up on the field and make contact at the plate. 

Dan Ware (18):  With the recent, yet surprising move of utility man Emilio Bonifacio being DFA'd, Christian Colon's stock just increased.  We'll save that for another story.  In the meantime, let's reminisce on the 24 year old's impressive '13 campaign.  For Omaha, Colon played in a career high 131 games, playing the majority at 2B (75 games; 54 games at SS), the inevitable spot on the diamond for him, if and when he makes it to Kauffman Stadium.  

Colon has been recognized as having an average bat, arm, and speed on the bases, with just below-average power, yet out of nowhere, hits 12 HR for Triple-A Omaha with an OFB% of 33.5%.  One of the more impressive tools Colon has in his arsenal is his ability to control the strike zone.  Although he doesn't walk that much (7.1%), his entire career, his K rates have been astonishingly well, sitting at 9% throughout his 4 year stint in the Royals' system.

Considering his athleticism and range, the move to second base was a good one, given that Alcides Escobar has SS locked up for a while. Now with newcomer Omar Infante filling the void at 2B, the only way he'll see playing time with the Royals will be due to injury or a day of rest for Infante, that is if he impresses this Spring.

Nicholas Ian Allen (--):  It appears now that Colon will not reach the potential that comes with being the fourth overall pick in the draft. That said, Colon can still contribute at the Major League level, and he should get an opportunity to do so in 2014. 

There are signs of optimism when looking at Colon. He was on fire the second half of the season, hitting .335/.406/.485 after the Triple-A All-Star Game. The increase in home runs is positive, as is his continued ability to put the ball in play. While his below-average arm signals a full-time switch to second base as a primary position, Colon is flexible enough to grow into a utility role.  In all, there is still time for Colon to have an impactful Major League career, just with a lower ceiling than one would hope.

Total Points: 70

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