Originally written May 23, 2012 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
Now, this is the Christian Colon the Royals envisioned when they drafted him with the fourth overall pick of the 2010 draft. After a slow start, Colon has heated up in the month of May and raised his average to .312 with a .370 on-base percentage for the Class AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Colon has three homers, 15 RBIs and eight stolen bases. That's a significant improvement from 2011 when Colon hit just .257. "I think it's just more of Christian getting comfortable in his second year in that league," Royals assistant general manager of player development J.J. Picollo said. "This is his second full season in the Texas League and just his second full season as a professional. That's when you expect to see some things click." Colon was drafted as a shortstop but he likely projects as the Royals' future second baseman, at least as long as Alcides Escobar is a Royal. Colon, though, is still playing about five games a week at shortstop and two at second base. "Shortstop is the tougher position, so it's good for him to get work there," Picollo said. "He's very comfortable right now at second base, so the feeling is that he doesn't need as much work there. We know we have Alcides at shortstop but there is always a need to have a backup plan if something happens (to Escobar)." Colon projects to be a solid defender with great hands, according to Picollo, and an above-average hitter. "He certainly could be a .300 hitter in the big leagues," Picollo said. "But he probably projects to be in the .270 or .280 range." Colon reminds some observers, at least in facial appearance, of Yankees star Derek Jeter. "The body type is different, though," Picollo said. "Christian doesn't have that long, lean look. He's shorter, a little more built, a little more sturdy. "But Christian has that great field presence, too, like Jeter. He knows when to come in and talk to the pitcher and he knows how to communicate with his team. He's a leader." The plan this season for Colon is to eventually promote him to Triple-A Omaha. "Let's just say we're having loose discussions about that right now," Picollo said. "Generally, when we promote someone it is because he has proven to dominate a level for a good period of time. We're not there yet with Christian. But we're very pleased with his development." DWYER SHARP Royals left-handed prospect Chris Dwyer is another Naturals player who got off to a sluggish start but is turning his season around. Dwyer began the turnaround when he was part of that combined no-hitter on May 10 against Springfield. Dwyer threw 6 23 innings of the no-hitter. In his last three starts, Dwyer has given up just three runs in 18 23 innings while striking out 16. "We hope it is a sign of things to come," Picollo said. "He finished off strong last year and came out and struggled a bit in April. "With Chris, it's all about command. He has an above-average curveball and change-up, but when he's not getting ahead in the count, those pitches are not nearly as effective." ARGUELLES COMING AROUND Left-hander Noel Arguelles, the Cuban refugee the Royals signed to a 6.9 million contract in 2010, got off to a horrible start at Northwest Arkansas. After his first five starts, his ERA was over 8.00. But Arguelles has started to pitch better of late. In his last three starts, two of which have been quality starts, Arguelles has given up just five runs in 17 13 innings. "We really haven't been able to pin-point the problem yet," Picollo said. "It doesn't look to be anything with his mechanics. It could be just adjusting to a hitter's league. "But for whatever reason, he has not been sharp with his command. Last year, he was a strke-throwing machine. Not so much this year." Arguelles has an unsightly 11-to-18 strikeout to walk ratio. "We've had him add a slider," Picollo said. "We hope that gives him another pitch to his arsenal and perhaps boost his confidence." BUBBA WATCH The Royals' top pick in 2011, outfielder Bubba Starling, continues to work hard in extended spring training in Arizona. He will head off to a short-season rookie team, most likely at Burlington (N.C.), in three to four weeks. "Bubba is doing just fine," Picollo said. "He's getting a ton of work in, playing in games, getting a lot of at bats in. This is the best situation for him. "Some people thought we should have sent him to (Class A) Kane County right away but we were convinced he'd get more work done in Arizona. And the short season is right around the corner for him."
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