Koshansky making strong impression

Koshansky making strong impression

PITTSBURGH -- Rockies prospect Joe Koshansky homered for Team USA against Team World in Sunday's XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game. But Koshansky, as usual, was playing for the entire baseball world.

Koshansky, like Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe and Ryan Shealy before him, is a first baseman with an uncertain future in the Rockies system, with Todd Helton signed through 2011 and not looking to leave. Atkins and Hawpe have moved to third base and right field, respectively, and Shealy is at Triple-A Colorado Springs and will most likely have to be moved to another club for his big chance. Koshansky, 24, figures that he's always playing for a wider audience, and on Sunday, it was a worldwide TV audience.

"Every home run is a great feeling, but I was very excited as I rounded the bases," said Koshansky, who arrived at the clubhouse to multiple text messages from friends and Tulsa teammates. "This is a great opportunity to have."

Koshansky and Double-A Tulsa teammate Troy Tulowitzki, a shortstop and the Rockies' top pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, represented the organization on Sunday, as did Tulsa manager Stu Cole, who was a coach for Team USA.

The left-handed-hitting Koshansky earned his spot in Sunday's game by answering any skepticism that might have come about over his performance at Class A Asheville last year, when he hit 36 home runs and took advantage of the short porch in right field at McCormick Field in Asheville. Tulsa's Drillers Stadium is much bigger in right, but it's not too big for Koshansky, who is 6-foot-4 and ranges from 230 to 235 pounds.

Going into Sunday's play, Koshansky was batting .293, remained tied for the Texas League lead with 20 home runs -- hitting his fair share the opposite way -- and led the loop in RBIs with 65. Koshansky's homer on Sunday, a 395-foot, two-run shot in the third inning, took aim at another criticism. It was off Blue Jays left-handed prospect Davis Romero.

At Tulsa, Koshansky is batting .235 with three homers and eight RBIs against lefty pitchers.

"Any time there is a left-hander up there in general, I try to focus, just because I don't see as many of those," Koshansky said. "Actually, the last couple of weeks, I've had pretty good success against left-handers. I'm trying to just let the ball travel and trust my hands to get to a fastball, even if it's on the inside corner."

"Coming out of college, I hit to the opposite field quite a bit," said Koshansky, who said he has played the outfield and doesn't feel he would be a liability if the Rockies were to move him. "I think everything is repetition, and you can always get better. I worked on it a lot this offseason and going into this season."

Koshansky has made an impression on the Rockies, just in case they find a way to keep him around. During Spring Training, when Helton did not travel because riding in a bus affects his back, Koshansky went 4-for-14 with a home run and four RBIs.

Tulowitzki, 21, entered as a reserve and walked in his only plate appearance on Sunday, demonstrating some of the plate discipline that has been his assignment this season. Tulowitzky can hit for average and power, but Cole continues to use him as a leadoff man to improve his plate discipline. The result is a .282 batting average with a healthy .361 on-base percentage, plus nine home runs, 20 doubles and 39 RBIs.

"The last 10 games, I've walked a whole lot, and I'm up to 30 walks, so I feel that's not an issue anymore," Tulowitzki said. "Now I'm ready for the next thing to work on."

Rockies fans began clamoring for Tulowitzki to move up, possibly to the Majors, when he lifted his average as high as .349 on May 2. But he slumped to .274 on June 18, before he missed 12 days with a slight strain in his left knee. He has added seven points to his average in six games, and he addressed a question that would have gone unanswered had he been rushed through the farm system.

"For a while, I was struggling and got myself out of the cellar," Tulowitzki said. "It does give you more confidence. If I start to struggle, I can get out of it and get to where I was."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.