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Blackmon has big league breakout with .300 season

Given a chance to finally play regularly in the majors, Charlie Blackmon took advantage of the opportunity with the Colorado Rockies.

In fact, the former North Gwinnett and Georgia Tech standout did more than just that.

Blackmon was named the most recent National League player of the week as part of a September to remember and will go into next season as a .300 hitter.

The 27-year-old was batting .340 for the month going into Saturday’s game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and hitting .307 overall. He had 25 extra-base hits, including six homers, in 80 games and was 7-for-7 in stolen bases.

For the week ending Sept. 21, Blackmon hit .500 and led the majors in hits (18) and total bases (26) while tying the Colorado record with doubles in five straight games. But that was just the best stretch in a total second-half turnaround.

Blackmon batted .240 in 12 games after being recalled in May and was sent back to Class AAA Colorado Springs.

Since his return in July, he was hitting .315 through Friday.

Injuries and the Rockies crowded outfield had held Blackmon back. But he was healthy all this season and neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Dexter Fowler was.

After playing in the Dominican Republic last winter, Blackmon will enjoy this offseason back home in Georgia. He is taking nothing for granted when it comes to next year, though.

“If you perform well, there hopefully will be a spot for you somewhere,” he said. “Then again, you can’t start projecting the future.”

The Rockies will finish last in the NL West for the second straight season and changes are expected. Fowler could be traded and batting champion Michael Cuddyer could move to first base full time with Todd Helton retiring.

Blackmon, a second-round draft pick in 2008, long ago showed he could hit in the minors, posting a .309 career average. Now he has proven he can do it in the majors as well.

Going into Saturday, Blackmon’s average in 149 games over parts of three seasons for the Rockies was .290 with 26 doubles, nine homers and 13 stolen bases. Those are numbers deserving of playing time.