Next stop, stardom: 2011 breakout picks – Colby Rasmus

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Colby Rasmus received more attention for his tense relationship with manager Tony La Russa becoming public than for his outstanding sophomore season, as he managed to lead all MLB center fielders in OPS as a 23-year-old without much fanfare.

La Russa benching him versus many left-handers (and then simply benching him for a while, period) kept Rasmus’ counting stats somewhat modest, but when given the chance to face southpaws he hit .270 with an .810 OPS off them and his overall production was spectacular for his age and position.

Rasmus joined Ken Griffey Jr., Fred Lynn, Grady Sizemore, Andruw Jones, Dusty Baker, and Lloyd Moseby as the only center fielders in the past 50 years to top an .850 OPS as 23-year-olds. That’s some pretty great company and the improvements Rasmus made in plate discipline and power from his so-so rookie year to his standout sophomore campaign have me believing he’s capable of even more.

His high strikeout rate is an issue and could keep Rasmus from ever posting huge batting averages, but the rest of his all-around game is strong enough to make him a superstar anyway. He’s a plus defensive center fielder with 30-homer power, above-average speed, and enough patience to get on base at a good clip even if his batting average is mediocre. His production last season flew under the radar somewhat, but assuming La Russa stops shielding him from lefties Rasmus’ counting stats will rise this year and should make it clear to everyone that he’s among the elite center fielders in baseball.

Kyle Freeland placed on injured list due to blister

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Starter Kyle Freeland has been placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to April 19) due to a blister on his left middle finger, the Rockies announced. Tyler Anderson was activated from the 10-day injured list and will start Monday night against the Nationals.

Freeland, 25, posted a 4.23 ERA with a 30/10 K/BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings across five starts to open the 2019 season. In his most recent start, the lefty tossed six shutout innings against the Phillies but wasn’t able to go out for the seventh inning due to the blister.

Anderson, 29, made two starts before left knee inflammation sidelined him. He has thus far yielded 11 runs on 18 hits and three walks with five strikeouts in nine innings.