On Monday the Colorado Rockies promoted outfield prospect David Dahl to the major league roster. He's gone 2-for-8 with a run scored and three strikeouts in his first two contests. Here's a quick look at what to expect in the near and long-term future.
Dahl was drafted by the Rockies in the first round in 2012 from high school in Birmingham, Alabama. His best season statistically was 2014 when he hit a combined .299/.335/.492 with 41 doubles, 14 homers, and 21 steals in 119 games between Low-A and High-A. 2015 was less impressive on the surface (.278/.304/.417 in Double-A) but with extenuating circumstances:
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book
David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
Bats: L Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 185 DOB: April 1, 1994
2013: Grade B+; 2014: Grade B+; 2015: Grade B+
2015 was not a great year for David Dahl but it could have been a lot worse. He lost half the season after rupturing his spleen in a late May outfield collision. To his great credit he came back faster than expected, but overall his season didn’t match what he did in 2014. All the tools are still here: he’s very fast, uses his speed well on the bases and in the outfield, and has an above-average arm. He’s strong enough to hit for substantial power but has yet to consistently do so, and his on-base ability is tempered by a very aggressive hitting approach. He also has a lot of trouble with left-handed pitching, hitting just .218/.246/.345 against them last year (the line was .292/.318/.433 against right-handers). Dahl’s across-the-board tools and skills remain intriguing enough to stick with a Grade B+, but he needs to lock down the strike zone and improve against lefties to reach his full potential as a regular outfielder.
He's hitting a combined .314/.394/.569 in 350 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A this year, with 27 doubles, 18 homers, 17 steals, and a 45/96 BB/K ratio.
The numbers aren't lying: Dahl has made significant strides this year tapping into his power more often and improving his ability to work counts. He'll likely always be an aggressive hitter but he's shown a greater willingness to lay off junk this year while slamming hittable pitches for power more often. He's also closed up the platoon splits that were an issue last season. Pacific Coast League observers are full of praise for his combination of bat speed and athleticism, which is completely to be expected given his explosive 484/.529/.887 line in 16 games since moving up from Double-A. He remains a productive stealing threat, and he's played well defensively in both center and right fields, though in the majors he's in left field so far.
Big league competition will be a greater challenge of course and there will be some ups and downs, but Dahl's combination of tools, improving skills, and multi-category potential makes him one of the best rookie investments going forward.