Blackmon providing pop from leadoff spot

Blackmon providing pop from leadoff spot

CLEVELAND -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon hit his 10th homer of the season Saturday, all from the leadoff spot.

Already, two months into the season, he has eclipsed the team's record for homers from that spot -- nine by Dexter Fowler last season.

Rockies first base coach Eric Young said Blackmon, who entered Sunday batting .317 with a .355 on-base percentage, has had a strong year for a player still learning to be a leadoff man.

"To me, a leadoff guy that hits for power is like a leadoff guy who can steal bases -- he changes the game," Young said. "The pitchers really have to challenge him. They can't lay a BP [batting practice] fastball in there, because he'll take it deep."

Young said he likes the way Blackmon is seeking completeness. The next area is as a stolen-base threat. Blackmon is 10-of-13 on steal attempts, but he attempted just four in his last 31 games going into Sunday.

"Being a base-stealing threat will increase more as he steals more, and his value, respectability, and his ability to either take pitches or go after that pitch with power will increase," Young said. "Charlie is still learning his strike zone in the Major Leagues, and the more he plays, the better he's going to get."

Since the start of Spring Training, Blackmon also has shown growth in his jumps and routes in the outfield while playing center and right. Manager Walt Weiss said he knew Blackmon had physical ability, but he has learned that Blackmon studies the game well.

"He's a very cerebral player," Weiss said. "He does a lot of work before the game studying video and pitchers' tendencies, not only trying to get him out but holding runners, too. He's always looking for an opportunity to beat you."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.