KANSAS CITY -- Christian Colón had two of the biggest hits in Royals postseason history with his heroics in the 2014 American League Wild Card Game and the 2015 World Series. Now he wants to make an impact in the organization in a different way.
The former infielder, first-round Draft pick and postseason hero will be an assistant hitting coach for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2022 after retiring last year. Colón thought about coaching throughout his playing career and hoped that when he did join the coaching ranks, it would be with the Royals.
When he hung up his cleats after a six-year playing career, four of which came in Kansas City, Colón reached out to the Royals' front office to inquire about coaching.
“I would say halfway through my playing career, after being in the Major Leagues and then going back to the Minor Leagues, I figured I had a lot more to give to this game,” Colón said. “Eventually I want to be a manager. With the leaders that the Royals have, [president of baseball operations] Dayton [Moore] and [general manager] J.J. [Picollo] and [assistant general manager] Scott [Sharp], it just makes sense for me.”
The Royals felt the same.
“We’re extremely proud that CC is going to be a part of our player development department,” Moore said. “He’s a winner. He’s always had an extremely high baseball IQ. And I’m just looking forward for him to share all his experiences with our players. You want players and people like Christian Colón to stay in the game and teach the game.
“He has experienced some amazing things in his baseball journey, and there’s nothing like having coaches and instructors that can relay and share those experiences to our players.”
Drafted No. 4 overall in the 2010 Draft out of Cal State Fullerton, Colón debuted with the Royals in 2014 and played in 21 games that season. He only got a few plate appearances in the postseason, but he made them count. In the Wild Card Game against Oakland, Colón laid down a successful sacrifice bunt in the 10th inning and hit the game-tying single in the bottom of the 12th inning. Moments later, he scored the game-winning run on Salvador Perez’s walk-off hit.
In 2015, Colón played in 43 games and hit .290 with a .692 OPS. He hadn’t had a plate appearance in four weeks when the Royals entered Game 5 of the World Series with a 3-1 lead over the Mets. He was called on to pinch-hit in the top of the 12th with Jarrod Dyson on second base, and he lined a single into left field to give the Royals the lead. Colón’s hit was the game-winner in their eventual 7-2 win, capturing their first World Series title since 1985.
Memories from that postseason run are still vivid in Colón’s mind.
“I remember the parade, that scene, I’ll never forget it,” Colón said. “The people, the support, over the years -- I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve given me and my family. I can’t wait to hopefully win another championship in Kansas City, and this time, I’ll be in a different role. And I’m just excited for the players I work with to make it to the Major Leagues and help us win up there.”
Colón, 32, knows he has his work cut out for him in his first coaching role, like getting players to trust him and delivering messages the right way. As he molds into the mentor he wants to be, he has plenty of his own to lean on in the organization, including longtime coach Mike Jirschele, who will be Northwest Arkansas' bench coach and who worked extensively with Colón as a player.
But Colón also hopes his perspective from his playing career helps just as much as his advice to Royals prospects about their swings.
“I think the most exciting part about it is just helping guys and seeing them flourish in their careers,” Colón said. “If I can help in any way I can, whether it’s my perspective on being a first-rounder, being at the big league level for a while and having success there, but then not really having the career that a fourth overall pick maybe should have had, I think there are different ways I can impact someone when they start their journey. I’m excited for that mentorship.
“The main thing I want to say is that I’m just thankful for the organization. Those guys are giving me an opportunity, and I look forward to doing a lot with it. I really can’t wait.”