Chris Colabello and smashing expectations

Jason Miller

Already a great story, Chris Colabello added another chapter to his remarkable career with an impressive first week for the Twins.

Considering how long it took Twins first baseman Chris Colabello to reach the majors, even a brief, uneventful cup of coffee for the Twins would have been reason enough to celebrate.

But co-American League Player of the Week honors and a six-game hitting streak to begin the 2014 season is a solid alternative.

What we already know

Players who spend seven seasons toiling away in independent ball don't often reach the majors, after all, much less turn in the type of week that Colabello has for the Twins. Born in Massachusetts but raised in Italy, Colabello wasn't even drafted after graduating from Assumption College in 2005. He then spent seven seasons playing in the Can-Am League on teams that traveled all across the cold Northeast.

Now, six games into the season, Colabello has delivered three multi-hit games, driven in a league-leading 11 RBI and is batting .391/.417/.696 for the Twins.

Not bad for someone who played well enough in independent ball to earn an invite from the Twins to play in Double-A in 2012, though even Minnesota's brass could not have imagined what would lie ahead. As a 28-year-old, Colabello tore up Double-A pitching before getting a shot at Triple-A in 2013.

Less than two months into last season, the Twins called up Colabello, who promptly struggled mightily through two extended stays in the majors. Over 181 plate appearances, Colabello hit just .194/.287/.344 with seven home runs and when an opportunity arose to join a professional team in South Korea this December, Colabello looked destined to continue his baseball career elsewhere.

The Twins had decided to move Joe Mauer to first base, and besides, Colabello would make far more money in South Korea than in Minnesota, where a spot on the roster wasn't even assured. Instead of following the money and the guaranteed playing time, however, Colabello chose to stay with the Twins, which, for the time being at least, looks like a shrewd move.

Take Colabello's performance against the White Sox last Thursday, for instance. Starting in the cleanup spot for Minnesota, Colabello did his job as a run producer and then some. With the bases loaded in the third, Colabello drove in three runs with a double and added two more RBI with a double in the fifth. An RBI groundout in the seventh gave Colabello six RBI on the day and ultimately helped the Twins to a wild 10-9 victory.

This past Sunday, Colabello again excelled from the cleanup spot, driving in four runs in Minnesota's 10-7 win over the Indians. The performance was a fitting cap to Colabello's exceptional first week in 2014.

Even if we can't expect him to bat .391 for the rest of the season, Colabello has given the Twins enough reason to keep on putting him in the lineup every day for the foreseeable future. That Colabello has continued to smash expectations should be less of a surprise. His whole career, from going undrafted to being signed out of independent ball at 28 to reaching the majors last season, has been about surpassing expectation.

We may think, as rational observers, that Colabello is destined to fade after such an improbable run, that he can't possibly turn himself into an everyday regular with the Twins. But nothing about Colabello's career has conformed to conventional expectation.

Heck, maybe Chris Colabello is here to stay.

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