Excerpt taken from Bob Wirz’s Independent Baseball Insider, Vo. 10, No.32:
Chris Colabello’s run from being last season’s Independent Player of the Year (Baseball America) to setting a new team record runs batted in during his first affiliated season to earning runner-up honors as the Eastern League’s MVP is a little short of miraculous. It has also given the 28-year-old first baseman a full plate of baseball for this fall and winter and very likely into the spring.
In 24 hours after Minnesota’s Class AA New Britain (CT) Rock Cats had been eliminated (by one game) for an Eastern League playoff spot, the Massachusetts native and one-time magna cum laude student at Assumption College, who had spent seven years in the Can-Am League before the Twins finally came calling last offseason, was on an airplane headed to Rotterdam, Holland, to play for defending champion Italy in the European Championships.
When that event is over, Colabello will have a short break before starting winter baseball in Mexico, and that seems likely to be followed by joining Italy for the World Baseball Classic, unless the Twins, his No. 1 priority, step up with something like a 40-man roster spot or non-roster invitation to Major League training camp in Fort Myers, FL.
It is a whirlwind schedule to be certain, but the 6-foot-4 right-handed hitter is not about to complain.
Colabello believes his long journey to get recognized by a MLB organization is "almost fate," he explained shortly after becoming New Britain’s single-season RBI king Sunday, because he is "better prepared" at this age than he might have been a few years ago when his class of college graduates were getting drafted.
He described playing seven seasons in Worcester, MA (and briefly in Nashua, NH), near his Milford birthplace as "pricless. The game has a funny way of beating you up."
So Colabello, who exudes modesty, can take his all-Eastern League honors, his .284-19-98 season, and the knowledge he was MVP runner-up to 38-home run all-star first baseman Darin Ruf of Reading, PA (Philadelphia) as he continues trying to climb into a major league opportunity.
To put the 98 RBI-season into perspective, veteran major leaguers Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jacque Jones and Doug Mientkiewicz could not do as well in full seasons at New Britain. Mientkiewicz’s 88 in 1998 came the closest among that group.
Bob Wirz also writes about baseball at www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. Fans may subscribe to this Indy Baseball Insider column at www.WirzandAssociates.com or comment to RWirz@aol.com.