Ask any minor league player and they’ll tell you all they hope for is one phone call. A phone call informing them that their dream has come true. That the hours of sweat and blood spent perfecting their craft was about to pay off. A call providing their ticket to the big show. For many the stage is too great. Their time on a Major League Baseball roster is short lived, and in the blink of an eye they find themselves riding the bus to small towns to play more farm league baseball.
Charlie Blackmon has received that phone call a time or two. For the 27 year old outfielder, his short career has included multiple stops and drops from the Colorado Rockies. Having made his first big league debut in June of 2011, Charlie Blackmon has spent each one of his three seasons in professional baseball bouncing back and forth from the Colorado Rockies to Triple A affiliate Colorado Springs.
With an incredible knack for putting the ball in play, the scouting report on Blackmon projected a hitter who rarely strikes out and the potential to hit 20 home runs a season once he polished his approach at the plate. Many scouts anticipated he would become an every day player for the Colorado Rockies after a year or two in Colorado Springs. In his third season with Colorado, Blackmon still finds himself listening for that phone to ring.
In 2011, Blackmon didn’t set the league on fire. He appeared in 27 games and managed a .255 average with a home run and 8 RBI. He was sent back down to Triple A Colorado Springs to fix holes in his swing. However, the biggest reason for his demotion was a lack of need.
In 2012, Blackmon was back. Playing in 42 games, he hit .283 and tallied 32 hits, including 8 doubles. Blackmon finally looked like he would live up to the immense talent he possessed and the time spent back in Colorado Springs looked like it paid off. However, the 6’3″, 210 lb left hander again found himself on the outside looking in as the Rockies outfield did not have a role for him.
On Monday, July 8th, Blackmon’s phone rang again. A nagging finger injury to Carlos Gonzalez paired with the upcoming All-Star Break provided the Rockies with a perfect opportunity to give Gonzalez some deserved rest. The Rockies boast one of the best and most complete outfields in baseball. For Blackmon, this trip to the majors was more than just another stint under the big lights. It was an opportunity to show he still remains a valuable prospect in the Colorado Rockies farm system.
This season, Blackmon has appeared in 17 games and is hitting .250. Don’t let his average fool you though. He has raised it over 50 points in his last 17 at bats. His impact has showed up against the San Diego Padres and the LA Dodgers. Since joining the Rockies earlier this week, Blackmon has helped Colorado go 3-2.
Blackmon’s journey to the majors hasn’t been impeded as much by his lack of development as it has been by the Colorado Rockies abundance of outfield talent. Over the past two seasons, there just has been no room for Blackmon in an outfield that consists of Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer, Ryan Spillbourghs, and Seth Smith. Stuck in the shadows of Gonzalez, Fowler, and Cuddyer, Charlie Blackmon continues to wait.
Charlie Blackmon is ready for the big leagues. The at bats he needs to see to sure up his plate approach need to be Major League at bats. There is little more he can learn in Colorado Springs. The best overall prospect in their system, he sits as great trade value for the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies are in need of pitching desperately. Blackmon would appear to be the best chip in acquiring a better arm by the trade deadline. Trading prospects like Charlie Blackmon is always a gamble. Especially prospects that have seen a few years worth of investment as Blackmon has seen from the Rockies.
Charlie Blackmon’s potential won’t be recognized this season. As has been the case the past two seasons, there is no room for him in Denver. But his time is drawing closer. Michael Cuddyer has had an unbelievable season. However, let’s not forget, Cuddyer is 34 years old. Having been in the league for 13 years and appearing in over 1,300 games, Cuddyer has racked up some miles. Dexter Fowler is under a two year deal that is up at the end of the 2014 season. Should Fowler’s production continue through next year, he will enter free agency looking for more money. Should Colorado not want to tie up the majority of their salary in the outfield (See Carlos Gonzalez’s 7-year, $80 million deal), odds are they’ll look for another center fielder to fill the void. Enter Charlie Blackmon.
As Blackmon continues to make brief appearances for the Colorado Rockies, he’ll become more comfortable at the plate and make the most of his big league at bats. Two years from now, he just might finally become the part of the Rockies franchise they had hoped he’d become, even if it was better late than never.