After a nearly six-week hiatus, centerfielder David Dahl (No. 2 PuRP) returned to the New Britain Rock Cats lineup in the leadoff spot last Friday in a 7-3 road loss to the Reading Fightin’ Phils.
The Birmingham, Alabama native went 0-for-4 in his first game back with New Britain since an ugly on-field collision with second baseman Juan Ciriaco on May 28. After being rushed to the hospital with a spleen laceration, Dahl decided to have his spleen removed three days later in order to return to the field this season.
Prior to his injury, Dahl was hitting .269/.296/.379 for the season and wrapping up a fantastic month of May in which he hit .307.
Following his splenectomy, Dahl remained with the Rock Cats and slowly began working his way back into game shape as he healed and began his rehab program July 6 with the Boise Hawks
In six games with the Rockies’ Short-Season A affiliate, Dahl went 3-24 with one run scored and one RBI. Dahl also struck out nine times with no walks in his short stint in Boise.
Dahl’s rehab stint struggles in Boise haven’t seemed to follow him to New Britain. Entering Tuesday night, Dahl was 5-15 at the plate with two doubles and stolen base since returning Friday, raising his average to .276 on the season and bringing his on base percentage up to .300.
As a 21-year-old in Double-A, Dahl’s success at the plate is encouraging against older, more talented pitching. However, his .300 OBP combined with a high strikeout rate (21.6 percent) and low walk rate (3.4 percent) show evidence of his youth, and also an area for concern if no improvement is made. With speed like Dahl’s (47 career stolen bases in 64 attempts), he needs to get on base more in order to better utilize his speed on the basepaths.
With his spleen gone and a good start in his time back with the Rock Cats, Dahl seems to have picked up right where he left off in May. As he continues to put this injury behind him, Dahl has still managed to show flashes of the athleticism and raw talent that makes him one of the best and brightest prospects in the Rockies’ system.