Royals thrilled with first rounder Colon

The Royals on Monday selected Cal State Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon with the fourth overall pick of the 2010 draft. Royals general manager Dayton Moore and farm director J.J. Picollo sounded ecstatic with the club's selection, praising Colon's quiet confidence and leadership, in addition to his considerable tools. RC breaks down the pick inside.

The Royals on Monday pulled a bit of a surprise with their first pick in the 2010 draft. While most draft forecasters predicted Kansas City would select Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal or collegiate southpaw Chris Sale, the club instead opted for Cal State Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon with the fourth overall selection.

"We're obviously real excited about our selection," said farm director J.J. Picollo during a post-selection press conference at Kauffman Stadium.

Colon, whose Cal State Fullerton Titans are still playing in the NCAA tournament, entered Monday hitting an impressive .352/.439/.621 with 16 home runs in 253 at bats. A starter since his freshman year, the 21-year-old shortstop has built quite a resume since declining to sign with Seattle out of high school after the Mariners selected him in the 10th round of the 2007 draft.

"His numbers are as consistent as any college player over the last three years," said Picollo. "It's tremendous when you go back and track the history of what he's done at Cal State Fullerton."

Indeed, Colon's accomplishments at the collegiate level are extraordinary. He was a Freshman All-American in 2008, and a Third-Team All-American last season, in addition to being named a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, which recognizes the nation's top collegiate shortstop. Colon played for the U.S. National Team last summer, becoming the first player in team history to be named team captain.

"I think that speaks a lot about his character and his leadership abilities," said Picollo. "He looks like a winner and carries himself like a winner."

It is clear that Colon's intangible qualities played a key role in his selection, in addition to his considerable tools and track record. In Colon the Royals see a winner who will fit in well with the culture the club is trying to build.

"I haven't been more excited about any player that we've selected," said general manager Dayton Moore. "This guy's been on championship teams his whole life."

Picollo echoed similar sentiments.

"He's a tremendous leader. Everywhere he's been, he's been a part of winning programs and winning organizations."

The Royals in recent drafts have invested heavily in high school talent. In 2008, a Burlington Bees squad led by 2007 first rounder Mike Moustakas claimed the Low-A Midwest League Championship, and the players from that team have largely stayed together as they've moved up the system. Picollo and Moore both emphasized that they feel Colon could join that group in short order as they move closer to the big leagues.

"That was part of the thought-process with his selection," said Moore. "We selected him with the idea that he would move with that group of players."

With Moustakas raking at Double-A, and 2008 first rounder Eric Hosmer tearing up the High-A Carolina League, the Royals appeared to be set with high impact players at the infield corners. What the organization lacked, however, was an elite shortstop prospect to add to that group. Enter Colon.

"He's going to plug in well with the other prospects we have in the system," said Picollo. "Up the middle is an area that we felt like we had to address to join that group of guys that we feel like are our future. And when you put all the pieces together, this one fit really well."

At the plate, Colon is a line drive hitter who displays excellent plate discipline and rarely strikes out. He's a gap-to-gap hitter who should hit for high averages. While Colon doesn't have exceptional raw power, his power numbers are up this spring, and he leads the Titans with a career-best 16 home runs.

"I think that's a sign of a kid who's matured even more as a hitter and knows how to lift the ball in hitter's counts," said Picollo. "I think he's got surprising power. When you watch him take batting practice, you don't necessarily grade his raw power out as well as it plays in the game."

On defense, Colon's arm grades out at average to slightly above average, and he displays sure hands and excellent footwork. Some pre-draft scouting reports raised questions, however, about whether or not Colon will have the range to be able to stay at shortstop as a professional. The Royals, for their part, express no doubts and have no plans to move him.

"We selected him because he's a shortstop," said Picollo. "In our opinion, he's the best in the country. We couldn't be happier to have him."

Concerns about his range were amplified after Colon suffered a serious injury last summer. Playing with the U.S. National Team, Colon broke two bones in his leg during a collision while turning a double play in the championship round against Canada. It was a long road to recovery for the young shortstop, but he steadily improved. After watching him all season, the Royals have no concerns.

"He was running much better at the end of the year," said Picollo. "As the season went on, his running times have increased, and you can see the life in his feet."

Royals fans might have to wait awhile, however, before seeing Colon's name appear in a minor league box score. Just hours after the first round of the draft was completed, Cal State Fullerton won its regional bracket in the NCAA tournament and will now head off to the Super Regionals. Colon, for his part, put on an impressive display in the final, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.

When the Titans' season ends, the Royals will be able to sit down with the young infielder's representatives and hammer out a deal. Colon is represented by Scott Boras, and if the club's past dealings with the super-agent are any indication, it might take some time to come to an agreement. The Royals, however, don't seem to be too concerned.

"We feel confident that we'll be able to sign the player," said Picollo.



Colon at a glance

Name: Christian Anthony Colon
Drafted: First Round, 2010 (fourth overall)
College: Cal State Fullerton
Position: Shortstop
DOB: 05/14/1989
Height: 6-0
Weight: 185 lbs
B/T: R/R

Collegiate Statistics

Year

CL

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB-ATT

AVG

OBP

SLG

2008

FR

243

59

80

12

2

4

39

13-17

.329

.406

.444

2009

SO

255

82

91

16

2

8

40

15-22

.357

.438

.529

2010*

JR

253

67

89

16

2

16

64

12-18

.352

.439

.621


*-Current through June 6, 2010