Former Royals infielder Christian Colón has retired at the age of 32, according to Darragh McDonald at MLB Trade Rumors. Colón was a former Royals first-round pick and spent six years in the big leagues with Kansas City, Miami, and Cincinnati. He is perhaps best known in Kansas City for his post-season heroics in 2014 and 2015.
The Puerto Rican-born Colón moved from Texas to Utah to southern California during high school, and was drafted by the San Diego Padres. He turned them down to attend Cal-State Fullerton where he became an All-American and a captain for Team USA. He went into the 2010 draft as one of the more polished hitters in the draft with a high floor. Baseball America ranked him as the #9 prospect in baseball, writing “for scouts who focus on what he can do, his tremendous hands and footwork, as well as his bat control, make him a future big league regular, best suited as an offensive second baseman.” The Royals selected him with the fourth overall pick in the draft.
Colón struggled in his first two pro seasons, but had a good showing in the Arizona Fall League in 2011, and put together his best offensive season in 2012 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas with an absurdly low 8.6 percent strikeout rate. He put up decent numbers at Triple-Omaha the next two seasons, but the Royals blocked him at second with free agent Omar Infante. Colón did his make his MLB debut in 2014, getting into 21 games and was included on the Wild Card roster.
It was in the 2014 American League Wild Card game that Colón would be forever remembered in Royals post-season lore. Colón entered the game in the tenth inning as a pinch-hitter for Terrance Gore, who had been a pinch-runner for designated hitter Billy Butler. Colón would sacrifice bunt Eric Hosmer to second that inning, where he would be stranded to leave the game tied. By the time Colón batted again in the twelfth, the Royals were trailing 8-7, but Hosmer was at third with a one-out triple. Facing A’s pitcher Dan Otero, Colón chopped one off the plate for an infield single, allowing Hosmer to score the tying run.
But it still took one more run to give Kansas City a playoff win. Colón stole second off Oakland catcher Derek Norris, and would eventually score on Salvador Perez’s historic walk-off single.
Colón made the Opening Day roster in 2015, but was sent to Omaha much of the summer only to return towards the end of the year. He hit .290/.356/.336 in 43 games for the Royals and again made the post-season roster. He only got into one game that fall, but again he came through with post-season heroics. In Game 5 of the World Series against the Mets, Colón came on as a pinch hitter for the pitcher’s spot in the twelfth inning of a 2-2 tie game. Jarrod Dyson stood at third with one out. Colón reached out and poked it to left to drive home what would be the winning run in the series-clinching game.
Colón would get his most Major League action in 2016, appearing in 54 games. But he shuttled back and forth between Kansas City and Omaha all season, and hit just .231/.294/.293 in 161 plate appearances. He came into spring training in 2017 competing for a starting job at second base with Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. Mondesi would win the job, but Colón initially made the team as a reserve. He would last just seven games in a Royals uniform before he was designated for assignment and claimed by the Marlins on waivers.
Colón would bounce from the Marlins to the Mets and Braves organizations in 2018, before playing in the Reds organization, where he resurfaced in the big leagues for 19 games in 2019 and 2020. He spent last year in Buffalo for the Triple-A affiliate of the Blue Jays, but never got a call up.
Christian Colón may not have lived up to the expectations of a #4 overall pick, but he reached the big leagues and came through in some big moments. He will forever be remembered in Kansas City for his post-season hits and Royals fans wish him the best of luck.