As David Dahl entered his senior year at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala., scouts were predicting he had the ability and makeup to be among the first players chosen on the first day of the Draft.
Such were the expectations on the 6-foot-2 outfielder, Dahl actually slipped to No. 10 because he only batted .417 with 18 stolen bases, 17 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs.
There were few concerns, however, when the Rockies were on the clock. They knew he could hit for average and possessed raw speed. His defense also was considered a plus, and it was anticipated his power would develop as he matured.
While Dahl admitted there's still room to grow, it didn't take him long to show his new employers the kind of potential he has. During his first workout at Coors Field, the 185-pound 18-year-old sent several balls over the fence -- nine to be exact -- while running a personal-best 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash.
MiLB.com caught up with Dahl to discuss adding some muscle in the gym in the offseason, representing Team USA and watching his favorite shows on those long Minor League bus rides.
MiLB.com: What have you been doing this offseason?
David Dahl: I moved in with a buddy of mine, Carl Thomore -- we got an apartment in Scottsdale, Ariz. -- and I've been working out at API Athletes Performance all offseason trying to get ready for the season. [Carl] was a teammate from this year in Grand Junction. It was a good experience. We became good friends on the team and we both decided to stay out here and work hard this offseason to get ready for Spring Training. He's a great roommate and it's a fun time.
MiLB.com: When we spoke to you in August, you talked about getting bigger and making your legs stronger. Was that a focus this winter?
Dahl: Yeah, I started at 182 pounds and I left around 195. I added some good weight, but I'm still running really well. That should really help me out a lot. I got up to 202, but then I thought that was too heavy, so I decided to aim for 195, and I feel great here now.
MiLB.com: When you're not working out, how do you spend your free time?
Dahl: In the offseason, I just watch TV and play video games -- that's all I really do. I was hooked on Friday Night Lights during the season. I watched every [episode] of that. Then I watched every [episode] of The Office, and then I started watching Prison Break. With video games, I'm hooked on Call of Duty. But now that Spring Training has started, after I get done, me and my buddies at the hotel go to the pool.
MiLB.com: Considering some of the bus rides in the Minors, it can't take many road trips to watch a full season of any show, can it?
Dahl: No, I ripped through a lot of them pretty fast.
MiLB.com: What's your earliest baseball memory from growing up?
Dahl: When I was 12, I remember having a couple tournaments where I hit 10 home runs in the tournament -- that was a pretty fun time. Or when I'd hit three home runs in a game in back-to-back-to-back games. Then, when I was 14, my travel ball team went to Florida, and it was the big World Series thing that all the travel teams did, and we ended up winning it and beating the other teams pretty bad. Recently, my senior year of high school, playing on the USA team and winning the gold medal in Cartagena, Colombia, is probably the most memorable one.
MiLB.com: How did the experience of playing for the national team help you prepare for moving up to pro ball straight from high school?
Dahl: The 18-and-under team, you were away from home in a foreign country for about 10 days and you learn how to live out there, how to eat, how to play when you're tired and worn out. We learned from a lot of good coaches. We had Scott Brosius as the head coach, so we were picking his brain, and we had a lot of studs on the team. So I was talking to them and seeing what they did in the offseason and how they prepared.
MiLB.com: Between travel ball and the U.S. National Team, did you have time for a regular summer job when you were in school?
Dahl: No, my parents grew up telling me, if I constantly worked hard at baseball and played the game the right way, I wouldn't have to get a job. So in the summer, I played a lot of travel ball trying to get better.
MiLB.com: Take me back to Draft Day last year. What do you remember?
Dahl: I remember waking up and eating breakfast. My grandparents came down from Alabama and, fortunately, I had a lot of friends come over to the house. We had a little get-together and we ate some pizza and hung out. When the Draft came on, I got a call saying the Rockies were about to take me.
My parents put the video camera on and we were watching the TV and when I got called everybody started going crazy. I remember hugging my parents and grandparents and thanking them all for everything they've done for me. I was so excited -- I couldn't stop smiling. My heart was racing. It was just everything I grew up preparing for, trying to get to this day. To see it all come true was really special.
MiLB.com: You were named Pioneer League MVP with Grand Junction last year. Evaluate the season you put together.
Dahl: I thought I did pretty good. I didn't have any expectations, I just wanted to have fun, play the game the right way and play hard. I happened to do pretty good, and I was excited about that, but I wasn't thinking about awards or my batting average or anything like that. I was just trying to get better every day.
MiLB.com: The Pioneer League is known to be pretty hitter-friendly. Did that type of environment help your transition or help avoid prolonged slumps?
Dahl: It was a good hitting league, but we faced some good pitching. It was definitely a good league to play in for my first year.
MiLB.com: Have you set yourself any goals for 2013, considering you're most likely going to move away from that league?
Dahl: Not really. I'm trying not to focus on where I start at or anything like that; I'm just trying to do whatever the Rockies want me to do and do it to the best of my ability. I'm just going to go out and have fun. I'm playing baseball for a living -- there's nothing else I could ask for.
MiLB.com: Between winning that MVP award, representing Team USA and getting drafted in the first round, what's your proudest baseball moment?
Dahl: I'd say playing on the USA team in my senior year, getting to represent my country and win a gold medal with my USA teammates. That's something I'll never forget. I still have the ring and everything, and it's a memory I'll never forget. That's up there -- it's the best one.
MiLB.com: You had some highly touted prospects on that Under-18 team, right?
Dahl: We were loaded. We had the No. 6 overall pick, Albert Almora, who played center field; we had me, the 10th pick, in right field; and we had the 11th pick, Addison Russell, and he played shortstop. The 12th pick, Gavin Cecchini, played second base; and the 14th overall pick, Nick Travieso, pitched. Then we had a couple late first-rounders or supplemental first-rounders on the team.
MiLB.com: Considering your tools, how would you describe yourself as a player?
Dahl: For hitting, I'd say I make solid contact gap-to-gap and that I have the potential to be a home run guy as I get older and bigger and stronger. In the outfield, I think I have good range and good instincts. The one thing I need to work on is baserunning and stealing bases. It's more about instincts and knowing how big of a lead I need.
I worry about getting picked off a little too much. I get late jumps, but I need to do it more and learn from the coaches. In high school, I could get a small lead and a bad jump and steal second base pretty easily, but now it's a lot harder, so that's something I'm working on.
MiLB.com: For people who don't know too much about you, what would they be most surprised to know?
Dahl: I used to be one of the most unhealthy eaters the team has ever seen. I used to have cheeseburgers, milk shakes and sodas before games, but now I know how to eat. I don't drink sodas or sweet tea anymore. People were telling me that it's not good, but I'd say that I could still play.
But toward the end of the season, even though it was a short season, I could feel my body wearing down, I was really sore. So I really wanted to learn about eating right and eating healthy this offseason. Just little things like eating breakfast and drinking more water. My New Year's resolution this year was no more soda and no more ice tea.