Chris Colabello Rumors

Quick Hits: Rockies, Bloomquist, Castillo, Colabello

The Rockies are in the midst of an awful 45-70 season, but a strong offseason could help turn them around, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs writes. Swydan argues that the Rockies should let Michael Cuddyer, Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson depart via free agency, then spend the savings on Russell Martin and on a couple of ground-ball-throwing, mid-grade free agent pitchers, like Justin Masterson and Francisco Liriano. Non-tendering Jhoulys Chacin and dealing for Jon Niese would also help improve the Rockies’ rotation. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • Mariners utilityman Willie Bloomquist will miss the remainder of the season with a microfracture in his right knee, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Bloomquist is making $2.8MM in the first year of a two-year deal, and he hit .278/.297/.346 in 136 plate appearances this season.
  • Austin Jackson‘s departure in the David Price deal could make the Tigers especially likely to sign Cuban 2B/OF Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets. The addition of Price brought them another top-flight starting pitcher but created an opportunity to improve in their outfield. Castillo has also been connected to a huge number of other teams, holding private workouts for many of them.
  • Chris Colabello may be near the end of the line with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Twins recently optioned Colabello to Triple-A Rochester, and after a .229/.282/.380 performance in 220 plate appearances with them this season, he could soon be designated for assignment. Colabello is a great story — he spent seven seasons playing independent baseball before signing with the Twins as a 28-year-old and making it to the big leagues at 29. But as a 1B/OF/DH type who hasn’t hit much, he’s struggled to get established in the big leagues.
  • GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets‘ recent moves, including designating Chris Young for assignment and replacing him by promoting Matt den Dekker, do not suggest that his team is giving up on the 2014 season, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. The Mets will find playing time for den Dekker and more of it for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. “I’ve tried to be honest with myself about that,” says Alderson. “And I have not concluded that this is a step back from competition.” The Mets remain on the outer fringes of the playoff race, seven games back of the last Wild Card spot. Of course, given that Young, for example, was hitting .205/.283/.346 before he was designated, it’s not likely that someone like den Dekker is even a downgrade, and Niewenhuis and Flores are supplanting underperforming players (Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada) as well.

Twins Links: Colabello, Hunter, Catching

A 12-11 record usually isn’t anything to write home about, yet the Twins will happily take even a slight winning record following their dismal 195-291 record over the last three seasons.  Here’s some news from the Gopher State…

  • Chris Colabello has been one of baseball’s top hitters over the season’s opening month, and the unlikely star’s long road to the Majors is chronicled by Peter Gammons in his latest piece for his Gammons Daily site.
  • Many of the Twins’ problems over the last three seasons could’ve been avoided had the team simply kept Torii Hunter in the fold, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines.  Before Hunter left to sign a free agent contract with the Angels following the 2007 season, Reusse argues that the Twins should’ve used some of their incoming funds from the approved Target Field to lock Hunter up to a long-term extension in 2006.
  • There’s enough catching depth in the Twins’ farm system that the pipeline is “a little stacked up,” Minnesota VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff tells Phil Miller in a piece for Baseball America.  “We’re juggling a little bit, or having a couple guys try other positions to get at-bats. I don’t think we expected quite so many to (show improvement), and some guys have really surprised us.”  Miller’s article highlights Alex Swim, a 22nd-round pick from the 2013 draft who has played well enough to earn a trip to low-A ball but can’t make the team since the Twins already have three catchers on the low-Class A roster.  Josmil Pinto, of course, is Minnesota’s young catching hope of the future if he can settle his defense, while the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked backstop Stuart Turner as the 30th-best prospect in the Twins’ system.

Twins’ Colabello Rejects Offer To Play In South Korea

SATURDAY: Colabello has rejected an offer to play in South Korea, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. A source with direct knowledge of the situation says Colabello turned down a "significant offer" from a Korean team that wasn't the LG Twins. The slugger could have earned nearly $1MM in 2014 under the offer, while the Twins would have received a comparable buyout. "Things are always subject to change, but Chris made it clear he wants to help the Minnesota Twins," said Brian Charles of Big League Management Co., who represents Colabello.

FRIDAY: Berardino now indicates that the Twins are asking for "possibly upwards of $1MM."

FRIDAY: The Twins could send 1B/OF Chris Colabello to play in Korea, Berardino notes (citing a Korean news report). The Twins are reportedly in discussions with the LG Twins (and that's not a typo) to transfer Colabello's contract, which could net them up to $1MM. Such a move would free a 40-man roster space for the (Minnesota) Twins, who need one to accomodate the impending signing of catcher Kurt Suzuki. The Twins could only send Colabello abroad with his permission.

Colabello, 30, hit .194/.287/.344 in 181 plate appearances in his big-league debut in 2013, but he also hit 24 home runs in Triple-A, posting a .352/.427/.639 line in 391 plate appearances there. Colabello has a total of 50 home runs between the minors and the Majors since the Twins signed him out of independent ball prior to the 2012 season.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.



Twins Notes: Bard, Colabello, Morneau, Hamburger

Here’s a look at the latest on the Twins..

  • The Twins “are in the due diligence phase” on Daniel Bard, whose brother Luke is a Minnesota farmhand, 1500ESPN.com’s Darren Wolfson tweets. Injuries have plagued the 28-year-old’s 2013 campaign, as he’s pitched just one inning in the majors this year and has a 6.46 ERA in 15 1/3 minor league innings. Still, Bard has two years of arbitration remaining and posted a 3.33 ERA in 73 innings for Boston as recently as 2011, so he may be worth a claim.
  • Chris Colabello‘s opposite-field power could help him earn the Twins’ first base job following the departure of Justin Morneau, Berardino writes. Colabello, 29, has managed just a .193/.270/.360 line in 126 plate appearances for the Twins this year, but was hitting .352/.427/.639 for the club’s Triple-A affiliate before being called up in May.
  • The Twins have signed well-traveled right-hander Mark Hamburger to a minor league deal, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Hamburger, who was originally signed out of an amateur tryout camp by the Twins in 2007, managed to catch on long enough with the Rangers to pitch eight major league innings in 2011. However, the 26-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since. He’ll have to serve a 50-game suspension for testing positive a second time for a drug of abuse before he can play a game, Berardino notes. 

Prospect Rumor Roundup: Talking Twins

Despite opening the year with one of the best minor league systems in baseball, the Minnesota Twins' collection of young talent continues to get stronger. The club's system entered the year as one of the top five systems, according to two different publications: Keith Law of ESPN (2nd out of 30 — subscription required) and Baseball Prospectus (4th). Baseball America had a slightly different opinion and ranked the system 10th overall.

When looking at the three Top 10 lists for those publications (Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America – subscriptions required), a total of 14 players were represented: Oswaldo Arcia, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Kyle Gibson, Aaron Hicks, Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Danny Santana, Luke Bard, Travis Harrison, Jorge Polanco, Alex Meyer and Trevor May. We can delete both Kepler and Bard because they're in extended spring training and have yet to appear in an official game. Santana appeared on just one list (Baseball America's) and has struggled in Double-A. The highest profile name — outfielder Aaron Hicks — is hitting just .144 in the majors after being touted by some as an early American League Rookie of the Year candidate. The other 10 players are thriving in 2013.

Arcia, called up to the Majors in mid-April, has posted a .746 OPS while helping to compensate for the loss in offense as fellow rookie Hicks finds his footing. Strikeouts have been an issue for Arcia but his three home runs have put him in a four-way tie for third on the team in that category despite appearing in just 28 games.

Both Sano and Buxton were ranked either first or second on each of the three publications' top prospects lists. Sano, age 20, has produced an eye-popping OPS of 1.165 OPS in 42 High-A games. The fourth-year pro has some of the best usable power in the minor leagues and he's slugged 13 home runs, more than any other hitter in the minors. According to a front office contact, the young prospect is not just a one-trick pony. "Miguel learned a lot about patience at the plate last season and that's one of the reasons he's off to a good start," he told MLBTR. "He also has a very strong arm at third base and has made good progress defensively this season."

Buxton, 19, is in his first full pro season after being selected second overall in the 2012 amateur draft. After hitting .392 in April, the center fielder's average has dipped in May but he's flashing five tools and still getting on base at a .420 clip. The talent evaluator that spoke with MLBTR said Buxton's natural skills have helped him get off to a hot start although pitchers have started to make adjustments against him. "He's going through a learning process now since he's been seeing mostly off-speed stuff this month," he explained. "He will need to continue to develop that patience and be selective at the plate."

Meyer was obtained from the Nationals during the offseason trade that sent outfielder Denard Span to the National League. The 6'9'' pitching prospect has produced both above-average strikeout and groundball rates while settling in nicely at the Double-A level. When asked what has stood out about the new Twin, the contact stated, "Coming into a new organization isn't easy but Alex has adjusted quite well. He may have the best fastball and the best curveball in the organization."

Gibson continues to rebuild his prospect value after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2011. The injury slowed down his big-league timetable but he's looking good at Triple-A in 2013, averaging almost six innings per start. With three big league starters struggling – Mike Pelfrey, as well as recent demotion victims Vance Worley, and Pedro Hernandez — Gibson could become a key contributor by the second half of the year.

The 32nd overall selection of the 2012 draft, Berrios has produced solid results so far this year despite being one of the younger arms in his league. He has a 2.86 ERA with 32 strikeouts and just five walks in 28 1/3 innings of work. Another offseason acquisition, May was part of the package that the Phillies sent to the Twins for outfielder Ben Revere. He's struggled to retire left-handed hitters in 2013 but he's shown the potential to develop into an innings-eating workhorse.

Converted from outfielder to second baseman in 2012, Rosario has spent the early part of this year making strides at the keystone while continuing to hit for a high average in High-A ball. Harrison, 20, needs to tighten his approach at the plate but the third base prospect has flashed good pop with 21 of his 43 hits going for extra bases at the Low-A level. Just 19, Polanco is already in his fourth pro season but his first in full-season ball. The switch-hitting middle infielder is batting .325 with surprising gap power and solid control of the strike zone.

Twinkie Promotion

First baseman Chris Colabello was a surprise promotion to the big league club on May 22nd. He didn't make any Top 10 or Top 100 list this year but he's been an impact player for the Twins at the Triple-A level. Colabello, 29, hit .358 with 29 extra base hits — including 12 homers (the second highest total in the minors) — in 46 games. In his last 10 appearances, Colabello was hitting .500 (19-for-38). Perhaps in preparation of this call-up, he was recently given playing time in the outfield.

Born in Massachusetts, Colabello spent his childhood in Italy and played for that country during the recent World Baseball Classic. He went to a small U.S. college and was never drafted by a Major League Baseball organization. He signed with the Tigers as a non-drafted free agent after impressing the organization during a tryout camp in 2006 but was released less than a month later. He spent seven years playing independent league baseball before agreeing to a deal with the Twins prior to the 2012 season.

A front office contact told MLBTR that he wasn't shocked by the success that Colabello has had since signing with the Twins because of the consistent success he showed in independent baseball. "It was just a matter of someone giving him an opportunity," he said. "He has power to all fields, has a good plan when he goes to the plate, and stays on an even keel. He's a tremendous teammate and he's always working to get better."

Whether or not Colabello truly has the offensive chops to be a big league regular remains to be seen but he should at least be able to provide help off the bench while also backing up at designated hitter, first base and both corner outfield spots. The organization now has roster flexibility with the rookie — both in terms of positions that he can play and with his three option years. Should the need arise, he can be shuttled back and forth between the Majors and the minors for three seasons without the risk of having to pass him through waivers.

In a piece for USA Today, Ray Glier got reaction from Colabello after the prospect learned of his promotion.