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Ray Guilfoyle takes a look at Royals infield prospect Christian Colon and thinks he could be the Royals second baseman in the very near future.
The Kansas City Royals used three players at second base in 2012: Johnny Giavotella, Irving Falu and Chris Getz. Getz was the better of the three at the plate, hitting .275-.312-.360 in 189 at bats, but he turns 30 in 2013, so he is more of a part time player. Falu also turns 30 in 2013, so he will probably battle Getz for a backup middle infielder role.
Giavotella, once thought of as the Royals second baseman of the future, hit just .238-.270-.304 in 181 at bats. Giavotella started the 2012 season in the minors, was called up in early May, and then sent back down to AAA in early June. He lasted in AAA for another two months until he was called back up in early August. While up in the big leagues, here are Giavotella's batting average per month:
May: .239 BA with a 8-4 K/BB in 46 at bats
June: .174 BA with a 4-0 K/BB in 23 at bats
August: .225 BA with a 7-0 K/BB in 40 at bats
September: .264 BA with a 16-4 K/BB in 72 at bats
He may start the 2013 season as the Royals starting second baseman, but the Royals have Christian Colon in the high minors who could replace him at second before the end of the 2013 season. Colon was selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Cal State Fullerton.
Here is what Baseball America said about him in their 2012 Draft Report:
He's a skilled hitter who hits behind runners, bunts and executes the hit-and-runs effectively. Defensively, Colon's range is limited, and his speed and arm are below-average for a shortstop. He does exhibit fluid and quick fielding actions and his playmaking ability is outstanding. His frame offers little room for projection, and offensively he can be streaky. For scouts who focus on what he can do, his tremendous hands and footwork, as well as his bat control, make him a future big league regular, best suited as an offensive second baseman.
With Alcides Escobar finally showing his potential at the plate in 2012, Colon started seeing time at second base in the minors in 2012. He played 17 games at second in AA Northwest Arkansas last season, and will have to stay there when he eventually gets called up to the big leagues.
Let's take a look at his career minor league stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
Colon hasn't hit for much power in the minors, but what he has done is hit for average and show elite plate discipline. I have to say I was surprised with how he has matured at the plate as he has moved up each level in the minors. His strikeout to walk ratio has improved each season he has been in the minors. Let's take a look:
2010 (High A): 33-13 K/BB ratio
2011: (AA): 51-46 K/BB ratio
2012: (Rk/AA/AAA): 28-37 K/BB ratio
Colon cut his strikeout rate from 9.8% in 2011 to 8.3%, while his walk rate improved from 8.1% to 10.2% in 2012. The improved eye at the plate has shown up in his batting average and on base percentage, as his triple slash line improved from 2011 to 2012, even as he moved up a level:
Nothing about Colon's minor league career stand out from a fantasy standpoint, as he doesn't hit for power, or steal many bases, but the fact that he owns an elite eye at the dish should result in a solid batting average and on base percentage once he gets the call up by the Royals. He could slot in the second, eighth or ninth spot in the Royals lineup, with the potential for double digit stolen bases and an above average batting average at the position as he gains experience at the highest level.
The question for Minor League Ball readers is: Will Colon get the call up in 2013, or will the Royals give Johnny Giavotella another year to establish himself at the big league level?