|Dexter Fowler is a huge key to the Rockies in 2012|
Those feelings are all-too-often a mirage of what a team or player really is. Just ask the 2011 Colorado Rockies, who started 11-2 and looked primed for a World Series push.
For every time someone says it is too early to jump to conclusions, another says that this guy or that guy needs to be shipped off to Triple-A, or called up to the big leagues. It is the nature of small sample sizes.
The Colorado Rockies are starting to experience a few of those whispers. Tyler Colvin, a former first-round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs, has made some noise in his brief appearances both off of the bench and in the starting lineup for the Rockies.
The lefty has swung a good bat for the club, proving to be a good pickup by Dan O'Dowd in the early-going. In 31 at-bats, Colvin is hitting .323 with a double, a triple and a home run. He also looks comfortable in the outfield and possesses the ability to play first base. Needless to say, his early numbers have been impressive for the Rockies.
His success, along with a slow start for Dexter Fowler, have led to whispers. Some are calling for O'Dowd and Jim Tracy to insert Colvin in left field and move Carlos Gonzalez to center field, placing Fowler on the bench.
Looking at the early numbers, it wouldn't seem to be a bad decision. However, it goes beyond April numbers. Despite the fact that Fowler is hitting just .222 (10-for-45) in the early going, he is showing signs of improvement.
It may not be easy to see, but Fowler looks more comfortable at the plate. In years past, it seemed like he was worried about striking out, something he took quite a bit of heat for. From the left-hand side of the plate, he was susceptible to the inside slider, waving over it seemingly every time. This year, he seems more comfortable with the pitch, fouling it off more frequently, or laying off of it entirely.
Again, the numbers don't tell the whole story with Fowler. He has still struck out 14 times, an alarming amount, while taking only seven walks. Yet, despite a poor showing in spring training, he seems more confident on the field.
It was well known that Fowler spent his winter in Las Vegas working out with Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki. He bulked up his arms, but almost certainly bulked up his hitting knowledge as well.
Conversations with guys who have had success certainly helps from the confidence standpoint. However, theory and practice are two separate things. Fowler couldn't put his new-found knowledge to the test until the season was underway. It will take time for him to become completely comfortable.
Some would argue that Fowler has had multiple chances, and Fowler himself may agree with this. However, keep in mind how quickly the Rockies rushed him to the big league level. He never played a game above the Double-A level before making his debut, and then with it being a foregone conclusion that he would begin the 2009 season in Colorado Springs, Fowler surprised everyone by becoming the Opening Day center fielder.
The reality is, Fowler never got the seasoning that he needed at the minor league level. The Rockies rushed him and he had to learn by being thrown into the fire. He has done a sufficient job, playing phenomenal defense while finding his way at the plate. The learning curve with the bat, however, is still going to take time.
For the Rockies, it is nice to have a guy like Colvin ready in case he is needed, but the guy with the most talent is the guy who has been wearing a Rockies uniform since September of 2008.
Fowler may have had plenty of chances, but he continues to improve, and I predict will still have a big impact on the 2012 Colorado Rockies.
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