Christian Colon started the year wanting to make a positive impression. It took a couple weeks for him to get comfortable, but he's clearly making one now.
The Royals' No. 9 prospect went 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored Friday as the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals trumped the Springfield Cardinals, 8-2.
Colon has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, putting together seven multi-hit performances. He is batting .400 with seven extra-base hits and eight runs scored during that stretch, raising his average 57 points to .313.
"I would say it was more mental early on in the season," said Colon, who also credited an improved two-strike approach. "I wanted to get off to a good start. Maybe you put a little more pressure on yourself. The swing has always been there, I felt good early on in the season. I'm just starting to relax more and let my natural ability take over."
The fourth overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Colon batted .257 with a .668 OPS in 127 games for the Naturals last year -- his first full professional season. Through 33 games this time around, he has a .797 OPS.
"I think last year for me was a learning year," Colon said. "It was my first full season in Double-A. I thank the Royals for giving me the opportunity to be here last year. I learned a lot and I have more experience. That's helping me out a lot right now."
Colon reached base in his first four plate appearances, walking in the opening inning, then singling in his next three at-bats. John Whittleman also had a big night for the Naturals, homering and driving in four runs.
On the mound, No. 4 Royals prospect Jake Odorizzi (4-2) allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings as he lowered his ERA to 3.32. The 22-year-old right-hander fanned seven and walked one, giving him 47 strikeouts over 38 frames.
"I think he's more aggressive," Colon said of Odorizzi, who posted a 4.72 ERA in 12 starts for the Naturals last year. "What I can see is that he's getting after it. He's always had the stuff to be dominant, I think it was a mental thing, too. He's more comfortable and going after hitters. He's been commanding the zone with his pitches -- that's always good to have.
"I've talked to some other hitters that have faced him and they say his fastball gets on them quick, quicker than they think. He's a good one."
Though Colon's numbers right now represent the best he's put up in his career, he's not satisfied. Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the 22-year-old shortstop said he still aims to improve his game.
"My goal is to stay healthy, keep learning, keep developing, keep trying to win ballgames," Colon said. "That's what I'm all about. That's pretty much it. And, hopefully, my time will come."