So, is Colby Rasmus worth the $2.7-million deal he made with the Toronto Blue Jays that averted ego-busting arbitration?
Last year, the 25-year-old newbie made $443,000 while boasting a .225 batting average, 14 home runs and 53 RBIs in 129 games. Those are weak numbers for a big pay hike. Mind you, his new salary is still less than the Major League Baseball average of $3.1-million last season.
The Georgia-born player doesn’t have the heart of fans. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire last year. He lacks charisma. He doesn’t smile, they say. He never smiles.
But perhaps nobody has seen the best of the young player, a top prospect when the Cardinals drafted him as the 28th pick in the first round. They called him a “five-tool” player. In a pre-draft workout, Rasmus fired a ball at 91 miles per hour and ran 60 yards in 6.7 seconds. He helped his high school to a national championship in 2005, when he batted .484 and broke Bo Jackson's Alabama state single-season record with 24 home runs.
We’ve all seen top prospects fizzle in the majors, but surely there’s some talent there and there’s plenty of upside to this young guy. Fans will have low expectations. He never reached his potential in St. Louis. Some say he requested a trade because of lack of play, but Rasmus denies it. He made the U.S. Olympic baseball team for Beijing, but didn’t get to go because of injuries.
Perhaps he hasn’t hit his stride yet. With a 30-year-old player, what you see is what you get. With a 25-year-old player, hungry for a chance, you may not have seen the best of him yet.
Is he the best outfielder in the American League, 25 and under? Will he become so? Time will tell.
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