Naturally Speaking: Future Cloudy For Playoff-Bound Colon

Christian Colon left college with glowing accolades and a reputation as a good-character, team-first player. But he’s struggled at the plate from day one, and is having a hard time living up to the expectations that come with being the fourth player chosen in the draft.

Christian Colon

Colon is laboring along in his second season with the Royals, providing solid but unspectacular play at shortstop for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. But his future at that position is tenuous.

Ever since the 2010 draft, it has been rumored that Colon just didn’t have the physical tools to stay at shortstop. His short, stocky build may not allow him to field the position. But to this point, Colon isn’t anticipating a move.

“I’ve been playing some second, but it’s been pretty much “You’re our shortstop.” They just put me at second to get some reps in case something happens. But I feel comfortable at second base.”

Some speculate the best Colon can become is a solid-hitting utility player, backing up starters at second, short and third. According to Colon, he’s played a little at third in the past, but never in the professional ranks.

So what do the Royals have in Colon?

Alcides Escobar’s defense leaves Colon in the dust. And with Escobar under contract for the next several seasons, that position appears to be locked up. Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella are performing adequately in KC, so there doesn’t seem to be an opening at second.

There is always a need for a versatile backup, but the Royals added Yamaico Navarro seemingly for that purpose. Plus Getz is now playing some short. So there is hardly a gaping hole for Colon to fill.

Colon will most certainly advance to Triple-A Omaha next season, but from there his future looks uncertain.

When the Royals made Colon the fourth choice in the draft, were they fooled by his play against lesser competition? Were they too enamored with his character? Or was the problem that there just wasn’t anyone better available?

The fifth player chosen, pitcher Drew Pomeranz looks like a future starter for the Rockies after being dealt for Ubaldo Jimenez. The results are still not in for pitchers Barret Loux and Matt Harvey, taken sixth and seventh. But the 13th pick, Chris Sale, has already pitched excellently in the White Sox bullpen.

Though they had a glaring need for catching prospects, the Royals took Colon over Yasmani Grandal, a backstop who has been solid at several levels in the Reds’ system.

One other player worth comparing to Colon is Cardinals farmhand Zach Cox. The two players are almost exactly the same age, and both came from high-level collegiate programs. Also competing in the Double-A Texas League this season, the 25th pick Cox is hitting .290 with 10 homers in about 100 fewer at-bats.

So it appears that, other than Sale, no other draftee has outshone Colon to this point. Maybe the key is to be patient and not heap unrealistic expectations on him just yet. Colon, himself, is trying to keep things in perspective.

Definitely I have expectations on me, probably a lot more than the other guys who go out there. I try not to think about it.”

Try as he might, however, Colon can’t ignore the pressure that comes with being a high draft pick.

“It gets to me sometimes. But I’m just doing what I can.”

Like the consummate team player that he is, Colon chooses to focus on the team, which recently clinched first place in the North Division of the Texas League and is now in the playoffs.

“That’s the important thing. You know, we barely missed winning the first half, and now we’re right here in the drivers seat.”

Colon recognizes the challenges ahead – tougher pitching, a possible position change, stiff competition for playing time, and high expectations. But he’s focused on only what’s within his control.

“The Royals have a plan for me, so I’m just doing what I can, trying to get better every day and see what they do with me. I’m just focused on getting better each day.”

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