Colvin Getting Back on Track

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – Cubs outfield prospect Tyler Colvin has had some setbacks since being drafted 13th overall in 2006. But he's finally getting back on track at Class AA Tennessee.

Colvin's biggest setback came with Tommy John surgery on his left elbow following a full season with Tennessee in 2008 in which he appeared in 137 games.

Then, Colvin began the long and frustrating rehab process.

"There was no real time off. It was just working everyday and trying to get my arm back to where I could throw," Colvin said of his rehab.

"Strength wise, I'm probably not where I should be because I wasn't able to do much. I could do a lot of legs but I couldn't do much upper body. I wasn't really cleared to do a lot of that stuff until this offseason."

Colvin's return to the diamond started with him going back to Class High-A Daytona to take advantage of the DH position that is not offered in the Southern League.

"It was great for me so I could DH, still get at-bats and work on my approach. That was the biggest thing for me, to get at-bats," Colvin said of his 32 game stint in Daytona.

Now Colvin is back in Tennessee and making an impact. Since being promoted, he has batted .295 with an on-base percentage of .333.

"It's just great to see him back recovering from that surgery and getting back on track to progress as a hitter," Smokies hitting coach Tom Beyers said of Colvin. "Since he's been here, he's been pretty consistent for us. He had a little streak there where he showed the long ball a little bit so that was nice to see."

The home runs have perhaps been the most surprising thing about Colvin's return to the Smokies. He knocked six round trippers in his first 22 games and is currently carrying a .537 slugging percentage.

"In Daytona, I only hit one and here my bat speed is starting to come back so I'm starting to drive the ball pretty well here," Colvin said.

Beyers said he isn't surprised to see such home run production from Colvin.

"I think he's capable of doing that. He's got a very quick bat so when he's finding the ball, his bat speed can produce some home runs," Beyers said.

Getting his bat speed back was a primary concern for Colvin after the surgery. As his power numbers show, his once lightning quick bat is starting to regain its form.

"Since he first got here, I've seen considerable improvement. From what I heard from Richie (Zisk) down in Daytona, where he's at right now is considerable improvement," Beyers says.

Bat speed isn't the only thing Colvin has done to improve his game. His once questionable walks to strikeout ratio is something Colvin has worked on leveling out.

Colvin spent the time during his injury gathering information from his future coaches and fellow players to prepare himself mentally.

"It helped my approach. I talked to different people during spring training. I went up to all of the pitching coaches and different pitchers and asked them how they would pitch me. That goes a long way with what I'm trying to do at the plate right now," Colvin says.

Colvin has since applied this newly acquired information to his approach when he steps inside the batters box. He has six walks to 19 strikeouts in 95 at-bats with Tennessee.

"I'm just looking out over the plate, looking for mistakes. I'm not swinging at pitchers' pitches as much as I was last year," Colvin said of his plate approach. "I try to get up early in the counts and not swing at those balls that are borderline balls or strikes. I'm waiting for something that's over the plate that I can actually do something with."

Colvin would like to get his feet wet in Triple-A by the end of the season, he said.

"I hope so," Colvin said. "I like to think that I'm having consistent at-bats and that I'm at that point in my progression as a player that I can handle it."

His high hopes are understandable with his impressive numbers at the plate, but Beyers is just focused on getting Colvin back in the swing of things.

"The main thing is getting him to finish this year and get him as many at-bats as we can. He's still in the process of strengthening that left arm. He's still not quite balanced strength wise, but so far so good," Beyers said.

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