He opened some eyes in spring training, when on opening day in Tampa, Colin Curtis belted a three-run, walk-off home run in the first exhibition game.
That was huge for two reasons. First, no one likes to go extra innings in spring training games, and Curtis’ 9th inning blast helped everyone go home at the correct time. Second, extra innings mess up the teams pitching plans.
Curtis has shown a little pop over his Yankee career, and the former 2006 4th-round draft pick (the 7th player from that Yankee draft to make the major leagues) out of Arizona State only has 27 career minor leauge home runs.
That is one reason why I wrote last August when discussing possible Yankees Rule 5 draft decisions: “Curtis likely won’t stick with another team if taken (outfielders stick much less than infielders), but he is a sparkplug type of guy. A little pop, good defense, some speed. Of the maybe tweeners (for the 40 man roster), I would keep both George Kontos and Jason Stephens, but let Curtis dangle. Yankees might feel otherwise as Curtis is destined for the Arizona Fall League. Is it maybe an audition for Colin to make the 40 man roster this year? Kevin Russo did the same last year. He was a surprise pick for the AFL, but really blossomed out west and worked his way into the Yankees plans.”
However, despite having a good AFL, Curtis was not taken by any team and stayed in the Yankee organization, a team he loves. Due to the recent inter-league games in NL parks, he made his major league debut this past week. When Jorge Posada was catching, Curtis was the primary left-handed bat off the Yankee bench.
Curtis likely would have been called up sooner, but he suffered a high ankle sprain in April and missed significant time.
He has a couple hits thus far in six at bats, while driving in four runs. This included his first career hit, a two-run double in Arizona, a place where he played his college baseball.
His great at bat last night led to a game-tying RBI ground ball.
He has shown a good knowledge of the strike zone, takes great swings and can play better than average defense.
Read more about Curtis here in my 40 man roster advice from last season.
It is a good deal for Curtis, who is a very likable guy, cancer survivor and all. Grwoing up in Washingotn State, he matriculated to and played his college baseball at Arizona State. I remember in 2008, after the Trenton Thunder won the Eastern League title, I asked Curtis if that title was bigger than starring in the College World Series his junior season. He smiled, took a few seconds, and said “the College World Series was awesome.”
It would be a shame if Curtis gets sent down now that the Yankees are back into the DH mode, with having fewer needs for double switches.
Right now the roster looks pretty good with all those youngsters making contributions.
Lets hope that both Colin Curtis stays a while.
UPDATE: Colin Curtis made his first major league start tonight against King Felix Hernandez, and doubled in three at bats. He played pretty well in left field, making a nice catch near the wall late in the game. Granted the double was a pop up to the second baseman, which was not seen in the early evening twilight, but many runners (like Hanley Ramirez and BJ Upton) would not have hustled to second out of the box.
Other Curtis you tube video: http://uk.video.yahoo.com/watch/122342/1322152
He is a great story.