The Rockies will call top outfield prospect David Dahl up to the majors tomorrow for the beginning of the team’s series with the Orioles, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. In a corresponding move, outfielder Brandon Barnes will be designated for assignment to create a roster spot.
Dahl was the 10th overall pick of the 2012 draft, but his path to the big leagues was slowed by a very serious injury in May 2015. A collision with a teammate in the outfield left Dahl with a concussion and lacerated spleen, and Dahl underwent a splenectomy to remove the damaged body part entirely so he could return to action in 2015, rather than undergo surgery to repair his spleen and face a longer layoff. It appears as though Dahl emerged from that scare relatively unscathed, as he has torn up Double-A and Triple-A pitching to the tune of a combined .314/.394/.569 line and 18 homers over a combined 400 plate appearances.
Entering the season, the 22-year-old Dahl scored impressive rankings on top-100 prospect rankings from Baseball Prospectus (who ranked Dahl 31st), Baseball America (39th), MLB.com (46th) and ESPN.com’s Keith Law (58th). The 2016 BA Prospect Handbook ranked Dahl as the second-best prospect in Colorado’s system, describing him as having “the potential to be a five-tool center fielder.” Dahl already possesses speed, a strong throwing arm and defensive ability in center, and he has quick hands and gap power at the plate, with some scouts believing he has the ability to hit 20-25 homers.
With the Rockies falling well behind in the NL West, it makes sense that Dahl would get an extended look. The timing of the promotion means that Dahl wouldn’t be able to earn enough service time to gain Super Two status if he stays on the MLB roster for the rest of the season, so if he isn’t demoted, the Rockies are on track to control Dahl through the 2022 season. As Groke notes, now that Dahl is in the mix for playing time, it will only intensify rumors that Colorado could create room in the outfield by trading Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon. For now, Dahl looks to take over in left field while Gerardo Parra is still on the DL. As Jason Martinez recently wrote in his “Knocking Down The Door” feature for MLBTR, Dahl’s importance to the Rockies’ future means that Parra should probably “be a very expensive fourth outfielder” unless a trade happens.
Barnes, 30, came to Colorado as part of the Dexter Fowler trade package from Houston in December 2013. Barnes has hit .249/.295/.376 over 703 PA with the Rockies while getting extensive time at all three outfield positions.