Tyler Colvin with the Smokies in 2009. Photo Courtesy: Tony Farlow/MiLB.com
By Roger Hoover / Smokies Radio Network
Many things have changed for the Chicago Cubs this offseason, as new President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer put their touches on the Cubs roster and farm system. Many Cubs have changed organizations over the winter, including several former Tennessee Smokies. This week, the Smokies Radio Network will profile five notable former Smokies who will play for new organizations in 2012. We’ll take a look at what’s new for these players, as well as reflect on their time at Smokies Park.
For our final installment with “Smokies on the Move,” we take a look at a player that began playing for Tennessee during the first year of the Cubs partnership in 2007.
A first round draft pick (13th overall) for the Cubs in 2006, outfielder Tyler Colvin played in parts of three seasons for the Smokies before getting called up to the big leagues in 2009.
Last December, Colvin along with D.J. LeMahieu (profiled in yesterday’s Smokies on the Move) were traded to the Colorado Rockies for third baseman Ian Stewart and pitcher Casey Weathers.
Colvin’s trade to Colorado fell on the heels of a disappointing 2011season. Colvin split the year between Chicago and Iowa as he got off to a slow start in the majors after spring training. The right fielder was hitting .113 with a pair of homers in his first 62 at-bats of the season, and was transferred from the Cubs to Triple-A Iowa on May 17.
He would go up-and-down between Chicago and Iowa for the next few weeks before returning to the Cubs for good in late July following the trade of Kosuke Fukudome to the Cleveland Indians. With Iowa, Colvin hit seven homers while posting a .256 batting average in 50 games.
Colvin finished the season hitting .150 with the Cubs, knocking out six homers and driving in 20 runs during 206 at-bats.
Colvin with the Cubs in 2010. Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The tough year for Colvin comes after a shining rookie year for the Cubs in 2010. Colvin blasted 20 homers, second among rookies during the year, while hitting .254 and driving in 56 runs. Colvin’s strong hitting was a bright spot during a disappointing 2010 season for Cubs fans, who took to Twitter with the hashtag: #tylermania after his blasts and big hits.
However Colvin’s exciting 2010 season came to an abrupt end in Miami on Sept. 20 when he a broken bat struck him in the chest, puncturing his skin causing him to miss the rest of the year.
2009 was the final year that Colvin spent in a Tennessee uniform, playing in 84 games where he hit .300 with 14 homers and 50 RBI for Ryne Sandberg’s Smokies.
Colvin had a strong August for Tennessee, hitting .379 with 22 RBI, helping the Smokies chase down a Second Half North Division title. Colvin’s August earned him Topps Player of the Month honors.
Here is an interview with Colvin in September 2009 after his strong month of August and with Tennessee on the cusp of a division championship, as well as Darren Headrick’s season in review that featured highlights from Colvin’s 2009 season.
Tyler Colvin Interview September 4, 2009
2009 Smokies Review – Darren Headrick
Tyler Colvin with Tennessee in 2009. Photo Courtesy: Scott Jontes/MiLB.com
Following Tennessee’s Southern League playoff run, Colvin was promoted to the major leagues and made his Cubs debut on September 21.
Colvin got off to a slow start in 2009 because his recovery from “Tommy John” surgery on his left elbow in November 2008. The surgery followed a 2008 season that Colvin spent the entirety of in Tennessee, hitting .256 with 14 homers and 80 RBI in a career-high 137 games.
Just over a year after being drafted by the Cubs, Colvin made his Double-A debut in 2007 and would play in 62 games for the Smokies. Colvin hit .291 with 31 RBI and nine homers during the year, as the Smokies won the North Division Wild Card.
The Smokies, led that season by manager Pat Listach, fell in a hard-fought North Division Championship Series in five games to the Huntsville Stars.
The Cubs selected Colvin with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 draft out of Clemson University, where he starred for three seasons and led the Tigers to the College World Series in 2006.
Colvin with former Smokies teammate Starlin Castro with the Cubs in 2011. Photo Courtesy: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America
What the Move Means for Colvin: After a rough 2011 season, the trade to Colorado provides a change of scenery and a fresh start for Colvin.
The writing was on the wall for Colvin’s situation after the Cubs signed outfielder David DeJesus a week before the Rockies trade.
Colvin’s new home is Coors Field, known for big homers and power hitting due to the high altitude in Denver. The Rockies are hoping this helps the left-handed batter get back on track after a tough year in 2011.
While the Rockies already have established outfielders in Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, and Michael Cuddyer, Colvin will compete for the fourth outfielder spot on the roster in spring training. Colvin will face competition with Charlie Blackmon, a fellow left-handed batter that played in 27 games for Colorado a year ago, hitting .255.
Colvin and the other former Smoky in the deal, D.J. LeMahieu will likely be teammates again next season, either in Triple-A or on the big league Rockies roster.
“Both players will be given an opportunity to compete for spots on our 25-man roster,” said Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd following the trade.
Cubs right fielder David DeJesus with the Oakland A's in 2011. Photo Courtesy: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America
What the Move Means for the Cubs: Colvin became expendable for the Cubs following the late November signing of right fielder David DeJesus. The 32 year-old is a veteran of nine big league seasons, the first eight spent with the Kansas City Royals.
After a strong 2010 season where he hit .318 for the Royals, DeJesus’ average slipped to .240 in 2011 with the Oakland Athletics.
The free-agent signing was the first for the new Cubs front office team of President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer, inking the right fielder to a two-year, $10 million contrac.t
“He does a lot of things very well,” Hoyer said to the Chicago Tribune. “He makes contact and gets on base. He doesn’t have a lot of home run power, he does have a lot of doubles power. He can hit all over the lineup.”
We certainly hope you have enjoyed this week’s Smokies on the Move series profiling former Smokies: Andrew Cashner, Marwin Gonzalez, Ryan Flaherty, D.J. LeMahieu, and Tyler Colvin. Please check back with smokiesonradio.com in the coming weeks as we start to shift our focus to the upcoming 2012 season of Smokies baseball.