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June 1, 2009 at 7:51 AM

Q&A with Ryan Kalish

The Boston Red Sox selected outfielder Ryan Kalish out of Red Bank Catholic HS in New Jersey in the 9th Round of the 2006 Draft. After spending some time in the Gulf Coast League and in Extended Spring Training, Kalish burst onto the scene with the Lowell Spinners in 2007, only to have his campaign shortened by a broken hamate bone. After feeling his way back from injury in the 2008 season, Kalish has gotten off to a strong start in 2009 and was recently promoted to Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs. Chris Mellen of SoxProspects.com recently had a chance to sit down with Kalish and dish about baseball.

Chris Mellen: You’ve gotten off to a solid start this season, and earned a promotion in the process, after coming out of the gate slow last season and feeling your way back from injury. What has been the difference between this season and last season for you?
Ryan Kalish
: I think this year I am at a more comfortable state as far as my play goes. I am kind of free now. I experienced a lot of after-surgery pain during the season last year, not that I am using that as an excuse, but I was kind of going through swing problems and thinking too much. This year it has been free and easy. I’ve been able to let that stuff go to get back to seeing the ball and hitting it rather than thinking about my mechanics, where my hands are, or where my feet are. This year I am just letting it flow and it has been a lot different.

CM: What were you looking to work on coming into this season?
: It wasn’t really anything mechanical. You know, at this point now that I am here in Double-A, guys seem to have it down as far as mechanics go. It’s just a mental game now. It’s about getting in the box and not worrying about mechanics. You have a plan; stick with it and just be aggressive. Last year for me it wasn’t really like that. So, I was looking to work on my mental approach coming into the season and let things go from there.

CM: Who is the teammate that has impressed you the most?
RK: I am going to have to say Aaron Bates, especially being here and seeing him go about things. The way he does things is the way you should do things. He’s new to the outfield and he’s very open to learning. He even asks a younger guy like me pointers on playing it. Bates is always trying to learn and is always positive. He’s going to get out like anyone else, but I feel like he is always trying to take something from it and bring it to the next at-bat. I really think that is a huge quality in a player and it has been helping me a lot. I haven’t had the fastest of starts in Double-A, and seeing the way he handles things has helped me as a player. So with Aaron, and Bubba (Bell), it is the same way; their mental approach to the game is something to look up to.

CM: I’m going to have to ask: Give us a self scouting report on Ryan Kalish.
RK: I would say [I’m] a guy who goes out there and tries to give it his all everyday. You know what you are going to get. A player who has some made improvements in is game, mostly hitting for some power recently.

CM: Is that something you work on (power)? How have you been hitting for more power, or is that something that comes?
: Yeah, it’s not something that I have tried to do. Maybe last year I get a pitch that I roll over on and this year I’m able to drive it into a gap or out of the ball park for a home run. I think it goes back to that free and easy let-it-fly mentally that I have been talking about. If the pitch isn’t there, I am taking it, and when the pitch is there I am letting it go rather than be passive with my swing. It has been a new mentality for me.

CM: What type of goals did the organization set for you coming into the season?
To be honest, there isn’t a set outline or list of things, but they’ve preached about going out there and playing, you know? I’ve sat down with some of the instructors and they have been like, “You’ve got the tools, just go out there and play.” They’ve told me to go out there and be aggressive. Even coming into Spring Training this season, I had a little more of a passive swing, and they sat me down to tell me to go out there and let it go, to be aggressive. The game has been easier with this type of approach they have been talking to me about, and I think that it has made things much simpler while eliminating the complications of playing this game.

CM: Who’s been the biggest influence within the Red Sox organization on your career?
RK: I’m going to mention two guys. One is Carlos Febles, one of our hitting coaches, and he was in Lowell with me. I was in Lancaster with him as well last season. He’s really helped me with the approach that I have been trying to bring this season. Every day in Spring Training we’d get together for hitting early in the morning and it was just good to get in there, be alone, and do my thing. He’s been there to see my swing and how it has progressed. Mike Jones has been another guy that has had a huge impact on me. He’s hit every level he has played at and he has instilled in me to just let it go. In the cage it’s ok to think about it, but when it comes to the game just let it go. We have a saying, “Get the ball before it gets you.” It’s just something to remind you to be aggressive. We’ve been together for years and it has been a real good thing going between us.

CM: Back when you were drafted it was mentioned in your scouting reports that Ryan Kalish could stand to work on his plate discipline, approach at the plate, and pitch recognition. How does a player go about working on that? What have you done to become a player known for his discipline and pitch recognition like being mentioned now?
I think it just comes from experience. You can’t really teach something like that. Some guys, like a big power hitter in the majors, don’t have the best discipline, but they can hit home runs. So for a player like me, that is something that I have to be good at. I think it comes from seeing pitches, man. You can do all of the soft-toss in the world, but that is for your swing. As far as your approach goes you just have to play and get at-bats. You aren’t going to see sliders from a machine or coach like you are going to see from the guys out on the mound. It’s been a good thing for me that I have been able to develop that.

CM: So, you’ve played centerfield in the system and rotated around in rightfield as well. At which position are you most comfortable in the outfield?
I don’t really care to be honest. I haven’t played much left except for a few times. It doesn’t really matter as you just have to adjust to where they put you. I want to get to the big leagues so it doesn’t really matter where I am at. I’d play first base as long as I make it. But, moving around in the outfield is something that you have to get used to. Centerfield was my position as a kid and maybe I feel a little more comfortable being out there. Rightfield, the more you play it, the easier it gets. It’s nice to be in center as you are the guy in the outfield that control things. I’m a more outspoken guy so it helps for me to talk to the guys, but it doesn’t really matter to me. As long as you are moving up and getting the reps, it’s fine wherever you are.

CM: What are your early impressions in regards to the difference between Double-A and High-A?
I would say that nothing really changes when all is said and done. Yes, the pitchers are better. They have a little bit more movement on pitches, especially on their fastballs. Everyone can snap off a slider or curveball along with the placement of the fastball. But, it is the same game you have been playing since you are a little kid. I think sometimes as a player you build up a jump a little more than it really is. I’ve made some adjustments in the last couple of days and am looking forward to continuing to go out there to play.