Chris Colabello’s run from being last season’s Independent Player of the Year (Baseball America) to setting a new team record for runs batted in during his first affiliated season to earning runner-up honors as the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player is little short of miraculous. It also has 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 onetime 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 a non-roster invitation to major league training camp in Fort Myers, FL.
So Colabello, who exudes modesty, can take his all-Eastern League honors, his .284-19-98 season which earned MVP recognition in New Britain, 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.
Colabello’s Dad Has a Souvenir Reminder From Will Clark
The opportunity to play for Italy has to have a great feel, too, because Colabello’s teacher father Lou was a longtime pitcher for the same team (1977-85), including World Championship triumphs in ’77, ’79, ’83 and the first Olympic year for baseball in 1984.
Former San Francisco slugger Will Clark took a lefty delivery from Lou Colabello out of Dodger Stadium, and Clark and Chris Colabello somehow got into a discussion about the home run this spring when the Rock Cats were visiting the Giants’ Double-A team in Richmond, VA.
Never one to be shy about his hitting ability, Clark, now a roving instructor for San Francisco, eagerly signed a baseball for the elder Collabello which says “you hang ’em, I bang ’em.”Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks