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Chris Colabello

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Christopher Adrian Colabello

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[edit] Biographical Information

Chris Colabello made his Organized Baseball debut in 2012 after 7 years in the independent leagues and reached the big leagues a year later.

Colabello's father Lou Colabello played for Italy in the 1984 Olympics; an American, Lou met Chris's mother while playing in Italy's Serie A. Chris spent his early childhood moving between the two countries. He played for Assumption College, hitting .361 in 2003 and .380 in 2004, then signed with the Worcester Tornadoes, for whom he spend significant time.

In 2005, he batted .320/.429/.500 in 51 games for Worcester. He had a tryout with the Detroit Tigers in March 2006 and the club signed him, only to release him after 22 days. He split the remainder of the summer back with Worcester, producing at a .325/.364/.453 clip with 26 doubles in 90 games. He tied Eddie Lantigua for second in the Canadian-American Association in doubles, one shy of the league lead. He also placed 7th in average.

Colabello split 2007 between Worcester (.288/.388/.480 in 48 G) and the Nashua Pride (.318/.406/.552 in 43 G), with 29 doubles, 64 runs and 62 RBI in 91 games. He was second in the league in doubles (3 behind Ed Montague), tied for 7th in home runs (13), was 7th in runs and tied for 6th in RBI. On May 29, he had a 10-RBI, 13-total base game, setting two Can-Am loop records. In 2008, Colabello improved to .336/.402/.571 for the Tornadoes, with 71 runs, 34 doubles, 16 home runs and 76 RBI. He set the Canadian-American record for doubles in a year. He also was 6th in the league in home runs, 5th in average (between Alex Nunez and Dennis Abreu, 1st in RBI (3 ahead of Francisco Caraballo) and 4th in runs. He was named the league's All-Star first baseman.

In 2009, Chris slipped to .302/.373/.455 with 22 doubles, 9 home runs and 55 RBI, still productive but not up to his prior years. He also saw most of his playing time at third base instead of his usual 1B and was not up to the task there, with 21 errors in 58 games and a .860 fielding percentage. He rebounded a bit in 2010, to .301/.366/.481 with 13 HR and 59 RBI. He tied for 8th in the league in circuit clouts.

2011 was a different story, as Colabello tore up the league once again, to a .348/.410/.600 tune with 75 runs, 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 79 RBI in 92 games, while fielding .992 at 1B. He set his 4th Can-Am loop record (extra-base hits in a season) and was among the leaders in average (2nd to Danny Bomback), OBP (3rd), slugging (1st), OPS (1st), runs (3rd, one behind the co-leaders), hits (127, 2nd, 5 behind Chris Valencia), doubles (tied for first with Bomback), home runs (2nd, 3 behind Nick Salotti), RBI (2nd, one behind Keith Brachold) and total bases (219, 1st by 16 over Brachold). He not only was named the league's All-Star 1B for the second time but also took home the MVP and the Baseball America Independent League Player of the Year award.

After toiling in baseball's hinterlands for 7 years, Chris finally got a chance to play in Organized Baseball, signing with the Minnesota Twins in February 2012 out of a try-out camp. He had hit .317 with 166 doubles, 86 home runs and 420 RBI in 583 independent league games to that point. His first summer in OB was a good one, as he batted .284/.358/.478 for the New Britain Rock Cats, with 37 doubles, 19 home runs, 98 RBI and a .996 fielding percentage at first. He led the Eastern League in two-baggers (2 ahead of Leandro Castro and Robbie Widlansky), was 4th in runs (78), tied for fourth in home runs and was second in RBI (6 behind Darin Ruf). Among Twins farmhands, he led in doubles (one ahead of Oswaldo Arcia) and tied Arcia for second in RBI (two behind Miguel Sano). He also tied for second in home runs. He was named the EL All-Star DH (Ruf was picked at 1B). He was runner-up to Ruf in MVP voting.

Colabello then followed in his father's footsteps, put on the Italian national team roster for the 2012 European Championship. As Italy's cleanup hitter and first baseman, he hit .355/.444/.516 with 8 runs and 10 RBI in 8 games. In the 8-3 win over the Dutch national team in the Gold Medal game, he went 1 for 4 and singled in Lorenzo Avagnina while facing Shairon Martis.

He starred for Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, going 6 for 18 with two home runs and seven RBI in five games. He led the Azzurri in RBI, one more than Anthony Rizzo, and had two-thirds of their homers (Drew Butera got the other one). Hitting 5th and playing DH, he had two three-run homers, off Scott Mathieson in an upset win over Team Canada and off Edison Volquez in a near-upset 5-4 loss to the Dominican national team (the eventual champions). He finished among the Classic leaders in home runs (tied for third, one behind José Dariel Abreu and Alfredo Despaigne) and RBI (tied for 5th with Shinnosuke Abe, Yoshio Itoi and Michael Saunders, trailing David Wright, Abreu, Mike Aviles and Despaigne). He did not make the All-Tournament team as Hirokazu Ibata was picked at DH.

Colabello began 2013 hot with the Rochester Red Wings, hitting .358/.417/.659 with 17 doubles, 12 home runs and 39 RBI in 46 games. He was leading the 2013 International League in homers, was second in doubles (two behind Joey Terdoslavich) and was second in RBI (behind Luis Jimenez). On May 22, 2013, the Twins called Colabello up to the Show when Trevor Plouffe was placed on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion, and he made his major league debut the same day against the Atlanta Braves. It was a scramble to make it to the game, as the team bus he was on was involved in an accident as he was heading back to Rochester from Allentown, PA in the early hours of the morning. No one was injured, but he just managed to reach Atlanta, GA in time for the game, where he found himself starting in right field and hitting 6th. He went 0 for 4 that day, being robbed of a base hit by Braves RF Jason Heyward in his first major league at-bat while the Twins lost 8-3, but it was the culmination of a long and circuitous trip for Chris. He got his first MLB hit off Doug Fister and his first homer against Yoervis Medina in the 13th inning for a winning blow July 26. He finished his Rochester campaign at .352/.427/.639 with 24 homers and 76 RBI in 89 games, leading the IL in average (36 points over Jeff Kobernus), slugging (118 points over Mauro Gomez), OBP (.019 over Vince Belnome) and OPS (212 ahead of Belnome). Despite his significant time in the majors, he was 6th in the IL in homers and tied Nick Castellanos for fourth in RBI. He was an easy choice as IL MVP. He ended up playing 55 games for the Twins, hitting .194/.287/.344 with 7 homers and 17 RBI. he split his time between first base, DH and right field.

Chris had a career day on April 3, 2014, when he drove in 6 runs in a 10-9 win against the Chicago White Sox; both of his hits that day were doubles, one with the bases loaded and the other with two men on, and he also drove in a run with a ground out. He followed that with a 4-RBI day against the Cleveland Indians in a 10-7 win on April 6th to take the early lead in the category in the American League.

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[edit] Further Reading

  • Ray Giller: "Chris Colabello, MLB's ultimate underdog, joins Twins", USA Today, May 22, 2013. [1]

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