Monday, August 11, 2014

Reflecting on Chris Colabello's Career

The biggest Twins story of the weekend was the call-up and debut on right-handed pitching prospect Trevor May. Fans have been clamoring for months to see May or his Rochester counterpart Alex Meyer. This new version of the M&M boys is supposed to provide some stability to a lack-lust Twins rotation but only time will tell.

One of the stories lost in the hype of May's debut was the demotion of Chris Colabello. The 30-year old former independent league standout is heading back to Triple-A for the second time this season. In 114 games over the last two seasons, he's hit .214/.284/.364 with 13 home runs and 16 doubles. These aren't exactly the power numbers a team likes to see from a first baseman that will turn 31 before the start of next year.

It took quite the fairy tale to imagine how Colabello made it to the big leagues. He went undrafted out of college and spent six seasons toiling in the Canadian-American Association as he waited for his chance. The Twins finally gave him an opportunity after Baseball America named him the Independent Leagues Player of the Year. Colabello certainly made the most of his opportunity over the next couple of seasons.

His career in affiliated baseball would start in Double-A where he was over 3.5 years older than the average age of the other hitters in the league.  Even with the age difference, he would go on to have a monster year for New Britain in 2012 by leading the Eastern League in doubles and ranking second in RBI. Colabello seemed better than advertised and it was hard not to wonder what he could do as he moved up the ladder.

The 2013 season turned out to be even better as he jumped to Rochester in the International League. He led the league and the minors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. He would be handed plenty of accolades at the end of the season as he was named the MVP and the Rookie of the Year in the International League.

Even the start of the 2014 season looked like Colabello had turned over a new leaf. During the first week of year, he hit .391 (9-for-23) with four doubles, one home run, 11 RBI and four runs scored. He lead all AL players in RBI and he ranked second in doubles. He would be named co-recipient of the American League's Player of the Week Award.

Things would slowly unravel for Colabello as the league made adjustments to him. After his hot start, he would hit .264/.321/.417 for the rest of the month of April. Out of his 19 hits, seven of them were for extra-bases and his strikeout to walk rate was 20 to six. He was leading the team in RBI but by the end of May he would be back in the minors.

Colabello was recalled by the Twins near the start of July but his latest audition didn't go much better. In 19 games he hit .222/.288/.389 with five extra-base hits and 16 strikeouts. This could leave Colabello's roster spot in jeopardy. Kennys Vargas has shown some good signs in his first handful of games and Joe Mauer is scheduled to return from injury. The Twins might also need Colabello's 40-man roster spot for a player like Alex Meyer.

If this is the end of Colabello's time with the Twins, his story will always be one to remember. From independent baseball to minor league All-Star, he had to fight to live out his dream of becoming a big league player. The Twins gave him the opportunity to live his dream and I for one am glad they did...

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