It is always a neat moment when fans finally get to see a prospect at the big league level after hearing buzz about him for so long. As easy as it can be to forget because of all that has happened since, there was that kind of buzz for the arrival of Charlie Blackmon during the 2011 season.
Blackmon hopes to generate momentum with his play in a Dominican winter league. Image: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
The hype had so much to do with his versatility on both ends of his game. His offensive approach translated to multiple spots in the lineup; he was a solid enough contact hitter to bat leadoff but had enough pop to hit in other spots in the lineup. He was fast enough to cover all three outfield spots and had a strong enough arm to be in all three spots, kind of like a left handed Ryan Spilborghs (respect). We heard enough about what he might be able to contribute that it felt like his arrival would provide a significant splash.
For a moment he did make that splash, stringing together an impressive hitting streak as he slapped the ball to all fields. Then he got hurt, and then, fair or not, he sort of faded from our radar. Attention turned to the possibilities of Eric Young Jr. and then Michael Cuddyer and Tyler Colvin joined the Rockies the next season. There are still high hopes for Blackmon, but he will have to earn whatever he gets in a crowded outfield competition.
It appears that Blackmon, or the man known as @ChuckNazty on Twitter, understands that fact. He is currently playing in the Dominican Republic, and Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that he is playing well in that stint. Perhaps the most exciting part of his stat line is the extra base hits he is producing. So far he has logged a .296 BA with 6 RBI, 3 doubles and a triple.
Blackmon profiles as an ideal 4th outfielder. He can spell all 3 spots with his defensive versatility and hopefully his bat continues to improve so that he can provide a spark from the top or the bottom of the lineup. The possibility of him fitting into that role depends on a number of decisions the Rockies will have to make this offseason, including what to do with Young Jr. and Cuddyer. Depending on who stays and who goes, it will be a stiff competition to find time in the outfield, even as a role player.