Prospects get the Call: Christian Colon

Feb 21, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals shortstop Christian Colon (72) poses for a picture during photo day at the Royals Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

If the Royals could go back, doubtless they would, but the MLB Draft offers no mulligans. For now they’ll work with what they have. The team promoted the number four overall all pick from the 2010 MLB Draft, middle infielder Christian Colon, to big league club before tonight’s game against Minnesota.

When GM Dayton Moore selected Colon, he did so largely because he expected the young shortstop to be in the major leagues very quickly. That was four years ago and Colon is now 25, relatively old for a top draft pick making their MLB debut.

Taken one spot after Manny Machadothree spots after Bryce Harper, and a few spots ahead of Matt Harvey and Chris Sale, Colon has simply done little but disappoint since entering the Royals Organization.

He offered an uninspiring performance in his first professional campaign, and posted just a .668 OPS in 2011, his first full season. 2012 saw him get off to a hot start, only to have it all come to a screaming halt with a toe injury halfway through the year.

And he looked like nothing more than a run-of-the-mill Triple-A middle infielder last season, decent – 12 home runs, .335 OBP – but uninspiring.

With the MLB draft being the lottery that it is, I find it hard to criticize a general manager when his selections come up bust. Moore, though, actually reached slightly to take Colon, bucking the general scouting consensus.

Most experts thought the Cal State stand out offered first round value, but few considered him worthy of a top five pick. ESPN’s Keith Law thought Colon was the 18th best prospect, Baseball America had him pegged at number nine, and Baseball Prospectus thought he would go with the tenth pick in the draft.

A safe college bat” BA called him in May of 2010.

And if you define “safe” as “will be a major league player with some degree of usefulness,” then I suppose that assessment still holds up.

Colon has actually performed adequately this season at Triple-A. Across 74 games, he has hit .296/.360/.384 with 4 home runs 14 stolen bases, the improved on base percentage being the most important note on that line. The power he showed in college may have left the moment he switched to a wooden bat, but if he continues to get on base, Colon can be a decent utility infielder.

Which is all he is likely to ever be. Four years ago, much of Colon’s value came from his glove-work at short but he has since lost a step and outgrown the position. In his last two minor league seasons, Colon has played 87 games at shortstop, 102 at second base, and 12 at third base.

He has good enough instincts to serve as a backup to Alcides Escober, but his bat can’t compensate for the defensive liability of playing him everyday at short. 

It’s not the career top-5 picks hope for, but the job of utility infielder is nothing to scoff at.