Chris Colton: Stock Soaring

Wisconsin outfielder Chris Colton has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the Mariners farm system so far this season. As athletic and well-rounded as any outfield prospect the Mariners have, Colton has simply done it all with the Timber Rattlers. InsidethePark's Dan Larson talked to the 21-year-old as well as Wisconsin's batting coach, Dana Williams, about the outfielder's breakout season.

Question: What is a "five-tool" baseball player?

Answer: A baseball player who hits for average, power, has great speed, a great arm, and plays great defense.

Mariners' fans rejoice. Outfielder Chris Colton of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers fits this description. In 64 games this season he has zero errors, 11 home runs, 41 RBI, 13 stolen bases, six triples, and a.248 batting average, which his hitting coach Dana Williams insists will climb to around .270 or .280 by season's end.

"He was doing some things mechanically wrong, so we had to tinker with it to see what we could do to get him to hit the ball more consistently," Williams said. "Now we've got him mechanically sound enough to where he's confident and putting the ball in play."

Colton is happy with the strides he's made this season after two years at Everett.

"It's a long season," he said. "I know when it ends, my (batting average) is going to be where it's supposed to be. I'm just going out there and having fun. I'm playing every game like it's the last game."

Many people who follow baseball feel the triple is the hardest offensive feat to attain, but through June 20 Colton's six triples were good enough for fourth in the league. The accomplishment seems to come naturally for the 21-year-old.

"(When) you're rounding first you see everything," he said. "Just go on instincts, and I think I've been doing that."

What about the 11 home runs and 41 RBI?

"I just see the ball and hit it," the outfielder said. "I try not to make the game too hard. There are too many players who make the game hard. When you get your pitch take a hack."

Team leader in home runs, RBI, and triples not enough for you? Colton has also outdone his teammates on the base paths with 13 stolen bases.

"I try to run on running counts," he said. "Two-one, three-one, three-two, pitches like that."

He also added that getting a good lead when he is going to run has been a key ingredient to his early-season success on the bases.

With such great all around numbers, one might think it would be hard to pinpoint just exactly what facet of Colton's game is his greatest attribute to the team. Surprisingly, however, the answer cannot be found in the team statistics.

"The way he takes the game, he's intense when he plays it," said Williams. "In batting practice he's always laughing. He knows when to be serious and when not to be. He comes out every day and he's always ready to play."

Colton echoed similar sentiment when assessing his contribution to the team.

"Going out there and playing hard everyday," he said. "That's what I love to do."

Timber Rattlers' coaches and fans alike can only hope his love for the game carries over into the second half of the Midwest League season and allows him to match his first-half performance.

Chris Colton and baseball, a perfect match! Stay tuned for part two of this love saga over the second half of the Midwest League season.

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