Finding consistency is the key for Colon
There’s an old adage that claims “consistency is key”, and for Lake County Captains starter Joe Colon, that adage holds a tremendous amount of truth.
Colon is a 22-year-old right-hander whom the Cleveland Indians organization drafted in the 12th round back in 2009 out of Huertas Junior College in Puerto Rico. Formerly a third baseman, the organization converted the 6’0” right-hander into a starting pitcher. Now, Colon has made significant strides as a starter and has earned himself a spot on the Midwest League All-Star team.
Colon spent last season with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, where he posted a 4-4 record and 3.51 ERA in 16 appearances. Presently, Colon posts a 5-7 record and a 3.29 ERA through 14 starts in his first full season with the Captains.
The Captains may be under .500 with a 31-38 record at the season’s midway point, but Colon feels that his personal season has gone well so far.
“I’ve accomplished everything that I wanted to,” Colon said. “I’m going to keep on working hard. That was the first half. Now, I have a new half and new goals. I learned from the mistakes in the first half because the season went up and down, but I’m going to learn from it and keep on working.”
So far, Colon’s hard work has paid off as he’s progressed through the ranks every year. He started his pro career with the AZL Indians in 2009 and worked his way up to Lake County at the end of 2011. As he’s advanced through the levels, Colon says he’s taken little notice of many differences, except the level of competition.
“Baseball is baseball anywhere I go, but I’ve been adjusting pretty well,” Colon said. “The only difference is that I have to be more consistent than I was. I’m trying to become that consistent pitcher that I want to be.”
Colon has already overcome one obstacle on the road to the big leagues. A strained UCL injury sidelined him for the entire 2010 season, but with hard work and a little faith, he’s put the injury behind him.
“It was a tough moment,” Colon noted, “But the Lord helped me to stay positive. I don’t know if I lost a step or gained a step, but I’m here now and I’m just trying to keep on working to get better every day.”
Colon knows there are plenty more challenges on the path to Progressive Field, and his biggest goal is to become a reliable starter.
“Every level that I go on to is going to keep getting harder and harder,” Colon said. “The difference between pitchers up there and down here is that they’re consistent and they know they can locate any pitch they have.”
In order to reach that level of consistency, Colon said he has mostly worked on his tempo on the mound. He always works on the basics of mechanics and delivery, but according to Captains’ manager David Wallace, Colon is one of the most mechanically sound pitchers on the squad.
“He’s athletic, so when we ask him to make an adjustment, he picks up on it quick,” Wallace said. “It doesn’t take him a week or a month to make it like some guys. He’s able to adjust very quickly.”
Colon’s resiliency has led to much progress, which Wallace said has been impressive. Now, Wallace agrees with his starter – finding consistency is the next step.
“He’s really taken a giant leap forward in his development just as far as his pitch development and how he handles himself out there, so it’s just a matter of maintaining that right now,” Wallace said. “Where he’s come from last year to this year, we’re really excited about it. We want him to stay right there – stay consistent, not get too high and not get too low, just stay on that nice little path.”
Colon has the mechanics down and a formidable arsenal of pitches that is anchored by his sinking fastball. In fact, Wallace believes Colon’s fastball is his biggest strength.
“Not many guys have the run and the sink on the fastball that Joe has,” Wallace said. “If he can just throw that on the plate and down in the zone, he’s going to get a lot of outs and a lot of early outs, which means he’s going to pitch later in the game. His aggressiveness for going after guys is what we really like seeing.”
His fastball may sink, but Colon’s career continues to rise. Now, he’s worked his way onto the Midwest League All-Star roster, which he sees as another reason to work hard. While the other players head home or take a quick vacation, Colon is in Geneva, Illinois - home of the Kane County Cougars - with teammates Francisco Lindor and Cody Anderson for the All-Star game tonight.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Colon said. “I’m going to learn from it and take advantage of it. I can’t wait to get there. I’m going to take every advantage of it and keep on working hard.”
For Joe Colon, finding consistency will be the result of another old adage: “Hard work beats talent.”
Lucky for Colon, he’s got both.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.