Dahl Showing Advanced Bat For Rockies

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It would be understandable if David Dahl needed an adjustment period.

Dahl, Colorado's first-round pick (10th overall) last month, is an 18-year-old center fielder in his first trial in professional baseball. While most high school draft picks at least get the luxury of going to a complex league team, the Rockies don't have an affiliate in the Arizona League or the Gulf Coast League, so the organization sent Dahl to Rookie-level Grand Junction, where he's had to manage the game on the field while getting indoctrinated to the pro ball lifestyle with the lengthy bus rides of the Pioneer League.

So far, Dahl has made it look easy.

Yesterday Dahl went 3-for-4 with a walk and a triple, which he pulled to right field when the pitcher tried to tie him up on the inner half. It was Dahl's eighth consecutive game with a hit, his fifth straight multi-hit game and eighth in his last 10, bringing him to .366/.423/.585 in 137 plate appearances. His 1.009 OPS ranks fourth in the Pioneer League; the three players ahead of him are all 21 or older.

At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Dahl has shown uncanny maturity for his age in the batter's box. He has good bat speed from the left side, strong wrists, works the count well and uses the opposite field liberally. He's hit safely in 25 of his first 31 games.

"When you couple bat speed and hand-eye coordination with a nice approach," said Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz, "and being a lefthanded hitter who can run too, that usually translates into pretty good numbers."

Dahl has a broad set of skills, with not only a polished hitting approach for his age but also plus speed and arm strength. Diaz said Dahl's skill set reminds him of Grady Sizemore. Others think his power potential may not be quite that lofty and have brought up Nick Markakis and Andy Van Slyke.

"It's really simple; simple load, very simple approach, short to the ball with quickness," Diaz said. "He's got a little bit of a wide, crouched stance, so there's not a lot of movement when he gets loaded.

"The less your head moves, the more balance you're going to have, and he definitely doesn't move his head much."

Dahl has also been impressive in center field, according to Diaz.

"He's been great in the outfield," Diaz said. "He can cover a lot of ground. He's got (two) assists. He made one at the warning track where he threw the runner out at third base all the way in the air. This guy's a special breed and he's got instincts for the game."