- Dahl gets some comparisons to Johnny Damon, both in terms of body type and somewhat how he plays the game. He also gets Colby Rasmus comps.
- David is a smart player. His overall skill set reminds you of a Jeremy Hermida (as an amateur) and Andy Van Slyke. Dahl seems to be able to make the big play under pressure.
- In 2012, while Dahl was at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Alabama as a senior, some scouts considered Dahl simply unmotivated by middling high school competition. Others saw a low motor and questioned his desire to be great. But he had a .412 average, 11 doubles, three triples and 18 stolen bases.
- Late in Dahl's senior year of high school, he confessed: "I don’t eat very healthy,” he admitted. “I eat fast food a lot, drink a lot of soda, sweet tea. That’s one thing I’m going to have to work on when I go off and start playing.”
- David earned a gold medal at the 18-and under Pan Am Championship in Cartagena, Colombia, last fall. As a member of USA Baseball’s 18-and-under team he hit .316/.391/.386.
In 2012, David topped the Pioneer League in batting (.379), hits (106), extra-base hits (41), total bases (175), slugging (.625) and OPS (1.048).
And Dahl was the 100 percent choice by every manager and Baseball America as the #1 prospect in the Pioneer League.
In 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Dahl as the second-best prospect in the Rockies organization. They had David at #6 in 2014.
In the spring of 2015, David was rated as the #1 prospect in the Rockies farm system. And he was at #2 a year later, before 2016 spring training.
- David grew up idolizing Chipper Jones and then, when he figured he'd make a living in the outfield, tried best to emulate Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Damon.
Determination and perseverance are trademarks of Dahl. He has intangibles.
"When you combine his mechanics with his mental approach, you get an impact-type player," Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz said near the end of the 2012 season. "I feel like he can be a Grady Sizemore or some type of player like that."
April 5, 2013: The Rockies organization reassigned David to extended spring training after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts for the Asheville Tourists on Opening Day. Dahl said he was sent down for missing a 6:00 a.m. flight from Arizona to Asheville prior to the start of the regular season (he booked his own flight) and for his overall attitude.
He returned to Asheville on April 29, but severely tore his right hamstring running to first base on May 7 and did not play the rest of the season.
- In the offseason before 2014 spring training, the Rockies sent Dahl to Sparta Performance Science in Menlo Park, California. He spent eight grueling weeks there, followed their program while home in Alabama for two weeks and returned for another two weeks. He began working out at the Rockies spring training facility in mid-February with noticeable results.
“I feel a huge difference from this time last year to now,” Dahl said. “I feel a lot more explosive now that I have stronger legs. They definitely don’t get sore.”
Late in 2014, Baseball America's annual Best Tools survey of minor league managers, Dahl was named as the South Atlantic League's "Most Exciting Player" and "Best Defensive Outfielder."
2014 Season: Dahl returned to Asheville seeking to be a team leader and he fulfilled that goal. After his long layoff, he was understandably rusty early in the season, but after hitting .368/.395/.513 in 117 at-bats to begin the second half, he earned a promotion to high Class A Modesto, where he hit safely in his final 12 games.
The Rockies wanted to give Dahl playoff experience and boost Asheville’s chances in the postseason, so he returned there for the final two games of the regular season and then helped the Tourists win the South Atlantic League championship by hitting .367/.424/.700 in seven playoff games. He won the Pioneer League batting title by 41 points, ran away with the Pioneer League MVP, and got named the top prospect in the league.
January 2016: The least spectacular, and least painful, lesson from 2015 is the one that means the most to Rockies outfield prospect David Dahl.
Lesson No. 1: A lacerated spleen really hurts. The injury, a Grade 4 laceration of his spleen (with a Grade 5 being the most severe) after a collision with a teammate while chasing a fly ball at Double-A New Britain on May 28, resulted in the spleen being removed.
“I got kneed in the perfect spot where it lacerated my spleen, which is kind of crazy,” David says. “The doctor actually told me at the hospital, ‘You were lucky to get here. People can bleed out in the ambulance.’ There’s a chance I could have bled out if we didn’t get there in time. It’s pretty scary.”
Lesson No. 2: Foul balls off the right knee also are a drag. Although he recovered from the spleenectomy and finished strong at New Britain, the knee issue ended his year early and cost him participation in the Arizona Fall League.
The third lesson didn't involve lost or damaged body parts, but it's a simple one that could quicken the path to the Majors for Dahl. Early season struggles, from pressing, taught him that his ability is such that he needn't do anything more than trust his skills.
"I was trying to do too much to show that I belonged there," Dahl said. "I was putting too much pressure on myself, swinging at too many bad pitches. Then I got back to basics, tried to put together good at-bats and started to not worry about it. I got over the struggle and I felt I was more confident and I could compete in that league."
Between May 3 and the spleen injury, Dahl hit .320/.333/.454 and displayed his solid speed in center field and on the bases. Then the injury occurred in the collision with New Britain second baseman Juan Ciriaco.
"It was a 10:30 a.m. Kids Day game, and it was really windy that day," Dahl said. "They had a big power hitter up [Altoona's Stetson Allie] so I took a couple steps back in the outfield. He hit what looked like a high fly ball but the wind just kept taking it in. The last two or three strides, I yelled, 'I got it.' [Shortstop Trevor] Story peeled off. Ciriaco didn't hear me until the last second. He tried to jump over me but he was running too fast to control it and kneed me right in the side.
"I also got hit in the nose so I was bleeding there. I couldn't breathe and there was a sharp pain in my side."
Dahl was in the clubhouse when the team's athletic trainer realized the injury was serious and called for an ambulance. At first he was told the spleen would be repaired and recovery would take eight months. But he quickly accepted when offered the option of having the spleen removed in a laprascopic procedure. He dropped from the 193-195-pound range to 178-180, but played his first rehab game at Short-Season Class A Boise on July 6 and was back at New Britain on July 17.
"I just want to make sure that I come into (2016) Spring Training ready to go," Dahl said. "After that, I just have to stay healthy and trust the process, not worry about where I go or when I'll get called up. If I keep doing what I can to win, be a good teammate and learn, I will get called up sometime. Whether I get called up this year is something I can't worry about. (T Harding - Mlb.com - January 9, 2016)
David peppers his conversations with the word "sir" when addressing authority figures. It’s a courtly and respectful gesture that reflects his Alabama upbringing and validates the notion that he was raised properly.
Dahl worked out in Scottsdale Arizona during the winter before 2016 spring camp, along with Rockies prospect Ryan McMahon and Trevor Story, who started the 2016 season in record-setting fashion.
David described his offseason days, thusly: "I usually wake up, like, 8:00, make breakfast and stuff and then watch some SportsCenter or something, and then we go to the field. I leave about 9:30, get there, roll out, stretch and then we go do whatever we want to do. We go in the weight room, do our workouts there. It's probably going to increase now because I'm increasing the baseball activity, so lately we've been there until about 12, 12:30. Now it might be even longer, and then I come home, eat. Me and my roommates—Trevor Story and Ryan McMahon—we all just hang out, go watch movies, go do whatever. Sometimes we hang out at the house and just chill.
"We're all best friends. We all hang out after games," Dahl said. "We just do stuff as a team and then we get that team chemistry. We're like a family. In the offseason, some of the guys haven't been out here yet, and we always keep up with them, texting, FaceTime, whatever. We're always talking with them. I feel like that helps because you know they have your back when you're out there on the field. You know that if you don't get the job done, the next guy will step up and get the job done for you. It's really cool to see, as you keep moving up, how close we've become."
David has worked on the mental side of the game, as well as his body. With the freak injuries he has experienced, Dahl has learned another valuable lesson: Put the negative things far behind you, moving forward toward your goals.
"Like most young kids, when things didn't go right they are frustrated and they [bring] it to the next at-bat," said Hartford manager Darin Everson said in April 2016. "What I've noticed so far this year . . . when stuff doesn't go right, he turns the page. His mind is clear, he's into his next at-bat or his next play. That's the kind of progression that we all want to see from our players.
"Maturity is the key word, but it's a lot of being mentally mature, being able to turn the page into the next thing," Everson said.
Dahl's message to the fans after his injury: "If you think that I play the outfield recklessly, then you are out of you mind. I play the game the hard and the right way. That will never change. If you look at the video (of his spleen injury), I called the ball and the infielders did try getting out of the way.
"I am very upset about this happening to me, but I know God does have a plan. It's not about how hard you get hit, it's about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward. Thank you for all your thoughts/prayers/support! It truly means a lot! I have a great group of people in my life! God Bless!"
October 2016: The MLBPipeline.com Rockies Prospect Player of the Year went to Dahl.
Dahl joined the club July 25 and hit safely in his first 17 games. He finished the season with a .315 batting average, 12 doubles, four triples, seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 63 games. His numbers would translate to 59 extra-base hits over a full season.
- June 2012: The Rockies chose Dahl in the first round (10th pick overall), out of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Alabama. He turned down a baseball scholarship to Auburn and signed with scout Damon Iannelli for a $2.6 million bonus.
|Birth City:||Birmingham, AL|
|Draft:||Rockies #1 - 2012 - Out of high school (AL)|
Dahl has five-tool potential and earning Colby Rasmus and even Andy Van Slyke comparisons. He has the rare speed/power combination. All five of his tools rank at least above-average, and some tools are well above-average.
Scouts rate his hitting ability at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, with his power getting an above-average 55.
He has a good approach at the plate and a naturally advanced feel for hitting. He is a pure hitter. He makes consistent contact with solid lefthanded power to the gaps. He has above-average bat speed.
"I'm not a power guy. I'm usually a gap-hitter," said Dahl. But he will develop more power for homers as he matures as a hitter. He has a level, compact stroke, with a loose, whippy swing from the left side. With terrific hand speed, he’s an excellent fastball hitter, keeping the bat head in the zone a long time, going with the pitch and using the whole field.
Dahl has a knack for the barrel, generates loft and has the physical projection to grow into more power with natural strength progression, giving him a chance to hit 20-25 home runs in his prime.
David's smooth lefthanded swing can get a little lengthy. But he is a pure hitter with exceptional hand-eye coordination and the rare ability for a young player to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and even pitch to pitch.
"It's just being ready, like with guys who are quick to the plate, just knowing when I need to get everything started to get ready to hit.”
Timing is a word Dahl uses repeatedly. In his first at-bat in a game at New Hampshire, Dahl hit a fastball for a triple to center field.
“I’m just trying to get a good pitch to hit, be on time, just take a good swing, and whatever happens, happens,” Dahl said. ”I’m just trying to be on time.”
David starts his swing with a leg kick and has tinkered with the way he loads his swing, but he believes his timing issues early in the 2015 season were more mental than mechanical.
"Now I'm just trying to relax, see the ball and hit it and have fun. I just try to be on time as much as possible. When I’m going bad, I’m thinking a lot. Then my timing gets off, so I’m late, and I start committing to a bunch of pitches that I shouldn’t swing at.”
- This lefty batter hits lefthanders well. And his above-average speed will lead to leg hits that will further boost his average.
Dahl is a patient hitter. He is balanced and under control. His loose, lefthanded swing allows him to drive the ball to all fields. He stays through the ball consistently, hits with power to all fields and understands how pitchers are trying to get him out. He has worked to make the barrel of his bat flatter through the hitting zone.
He'll chase pitches above the strike zone at times but has the ingredients to be a plus hitter with above-average power. His quick hands allow him to stay inside the baseball.
And David can also play the small game, dropping the occasional bunt for a hit, but he’s more adept at using his fast hands and flat swing plane to smoke line drives. His approach emphasizes hitting for average, over home run power. But he does exhibit the ability to turn on velocity. He comes to the plate with a plan.
Through the years, an inability to hit for average has undermined many intriguing center field prospects with power/speed potential, but Dahl faces fewer questions about his hit tool than most, with scouts instead wondering how much power he’ll eventually show.
He almost never gets fooled at the plate and is never off-balance. It doesn’t matter what the count is, he is looking to put a good swing on it. He is not intimidated. With two strikes he takes the ball the other way, he works the middle of the field and he's shown some pop. He has extremely fast hands, and can turn on inside heat.
If everything works out, Dahl could reach the big leagues, where he has the potential to hit first, second or third in the lineup.
David is a good bunter.
2013 Season: A suspension, torn hamstring and back injury ruined Dahl’s first season in Asheville.
2014 Season: David returned to the South Atlantic League and re-established himself as one of the better center field prospects in the game, showing an above-average glove, above-average speed and an advanced bat.
In 2016 with the Rockies, David admitted difficulty grasping 75 years. It had been that long since a player has hit safely in his first 17 Major League games. Dahl's first-inning single in a 12-9 victory over the Rangers tied him with Chuck Aleno of the 1941 Reds for the MLB record.
"It's pretty cool," said Dahl. "I really haven't thought much about it, besides looking on Twitter."
“Typically when young players show up, they’re not too sure,” manager Walt Weiss said late in the 2016 season.. “They don’t have a track record in the Major Leagues to fall back on, to draw confidence from. David showed up here a very confident player, very composed. He always looks like he’s in control of his game, control of his at-bats.”
David has the tools to be a Gold Glove outfielder. He has the speed to cover a whole lot of ground in center field. His defense rates a 60 or even 70, on the 20-80 scale.
- Dahl has a strong arm. His arm is loose and his throws are accurate. His arm gets a 55 rating.
David is a gifted center fielder. He runs down balls without fear, running into walls making catches and charging and diving for balls without hesitation.
Dahl’s instincts, first-step quickness and routes to the ball are all above-average. He gets good reads off the bat with the tools to stay in center field because his closing speed is so impressive.
- David has impressive speed. He ran a 6.4-second 60-yard-dash in 2012.
- If Dahl improves his reads and jumps on the bases, he could be a real threat to steal 30 bases.
- Dahl gets a 60 for his speed, a plus rating on the 20-80 scout scale.
May 7, 2013: Dahl was on the D.L. for the rest of the season after severely tearing his right hamstring during a game with the Asheville Tourists. He was trying to beat out a base hit in the infield. Lower back soreness developed during his rehab late in the season, keeping him from participating in instructional league.
May 28-July 17, 2015: Dahl underwent surgery to have his spleen removed at a Hartford, Connecticut hospital, four days after being involved in a serious collision in the outfield.
The spleen, a lymphatic organ located in the upper-left portion of the abdomen, filters blood and plays a major role in the immune system. It’s protected by the ribs, but the consequences can be dire when it absorbs a significant blow. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith lacerated his spleen in December 2014 and spent the offseason in recovery mode. In September, an autopsy determined that Evan Murray, a 17-year-old high school quarterback in New Jersey, had died of massive internal bleeding following a spleen-related injury.
Once Dahl and his family agreed to the splenectomy, surgeons removed the organ with a laparoscope—a lighted tube that’s inserted through an incision in the abdomen and is less invasive than the traditional open surgery.
It was hoped that David would return in four to six weeks. The spleen acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system and also helps fight infection. Adam Karon, his agent, said Dahl will need to have yearly pneumonia vaccines when he gets sick and take other precautions to ensure that minor illnesses don't escalate.
Had he not had his spleen removed, Dahl would have had to play with a protective covering and would have risked the spleen rupturing in a collision. And that would have been no small risk for the hell-bent Dahl, who has yet to shy away from an outfield wall.
“The best thing about the spleen removal is he can play without fear,” Wilson said. “Now he can play as he’s used to with the passion and energy he’s used to without holding anything back. And that’s the most important thing for him.”
"There are some challenges he'll have to deal with for the rest of his life," Karon said. Right now, he's young, so his immune system is strong. He’s more susceptible to pneumonia, the flu or other viral infections without a spleen, so he receives a regimen of vaccinations and other shots. But his daily life is unaffected. Later in life, as he gets older, it may be more of a concern.
Dahl was pursuing a shallow fly ball in center field in a New Britain-Altoona game when he collided with second baseman Juan Ciriaco. David was asked about the spleen removal going forward.
"It's nothing too crazy. I've got to get some flu shots and vaccination shots every few years. I get the flu shot every year just to make sure. If I feel sick or something, I have to go to the doctor and get antibiotics faster than most people just because that can turn into something worse if I don't treat it right away. Other than that, it's not really affecting me at all. I'm able to do everything that I've done in the past," Dahl said.
Aug. 20, 2015: Dahl was back on the D.L. with knee tendinitis. He fouled a ball off his right knee.
March 6, 2017: Dahl had a stress reaction in his sixth rib. He likely will need additional rehab time after the re-evaluation.
April 1, 2017: David began the season on the 10-day DL, still getting over the stress reaction in his rib.
August 1, 2017: Dahl was on the DL for the rest of the season.
- April 10-17, 2018: David was on the DL.