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March 31, 2010 at 8:55 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick

This installment of the series features two very promising outfielders in the upper levels of the Red Sox organization. Both players have continued development in key areas ahead of them this season, with a focus on proving they are ready to push the major league roster.

Ryan Kalish

Position: Outfield
2009 Teams: Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
2010 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 22

Strengths: Fully healed from his hand injury and more comfortable letting loose with his swing, Kalish put together a solid season between two levels in 2009, and after an initial adjustment period, came on strong offensively at the end of the year in Double-A. Once a weakness for him, his patience and approach at the plate have evolved into a key aspect of his offensive game, and Kalish demonstrates above-average control of the strike zone to work counts to select pitches he can drive. With a smooth and quick swing, he drives through the point of contact to produce line drives to all fields and stays back well to take what pitchers give him. A strong player, especially in his forearms and hands, Kalish begun to tap more into his power potential and added a little extra lift into his swing to boost his home run totals in 2009. Despite not having elite speed, Kalish is a very good base runner and can swipe bases due to the excellent reads he gets off pitchers. Defensively, he shows solid-average range in the outfield and an accurate arm. Kalish is capable of playing all three outfield positions, but most likely projects as a corner outfielder at the major league level while being able to play center field in a pinch. A hard worker and driven player, he made strong strides in 2009 and has pushed to solidify himself in the outfield mix at the upper levels of the Red Sox organization.

Development Needs: Since he is most likely a corner outfielder at the major league level, a lot of Kalish’s offensive needs stem from the development of his power. Despite improving the lift he creates with his swing in 2009, he still tends to hit a few too many groundballs, can slash at outside pitches rather than drive them, and roll over fastballs when he is scuffling. Continued improvement with driving and lifting his pitches will be a key area to focus on to flash slightly above-average power in the big leagues, without sacrificing too much of his contact skills and getting away from his disciplined approach at the plate. On occasion, he can be susceptible to off-speed pitches down and in when he is behind in the count. Already very muscular, as Kalish continues to physically mature in his early-to-mid twenties he could lose a little bit of his speed, which will take away from his skills as a center fielder. However, he projects as an above-average corner outfielder and gets good reads off the bat in those spots in the outfield. Kalish has hung in well against lefties during his time in the low minors, but some improvement in that aspect will keep him on the track of a major league regular.

2010 Outlook: Kalish looks set to break camp with Portland, but his stay there could be a shorter one if he can continue to build upon the trends that he displayed at the end of the 2009 season. Now a more featured part of the lineup and a hitter that opposing teams are going to pitch that much tougher, the challenge is in front of him to maintain that even-keel approach at the plate that has made Kalish successful in his career thus far. Positive signs of development will be strong contact rates and a reduction in his strikeouts at Double-A in 2010. As he turns on more balls to drive them with lift, it’s possible to see a rise in his home run totals. Kalish has entered the stage of showing the organization that he is ready for the major league level, and a promotion to Pawtucket during the summer will be a good indication that the team feels he isn’t too far off from being able to make a contribution to the 25-man roster in some capacity. With a big season ahead of him, Kalish seems to be on the cusp of putting those finishing touches on his game and realizing the potential that the organization saw when drafting him back in 2006.

Josh Reddick

Position: Outfield
2009 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
2010 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 23

Strengths: A wiry yet gifted athlete, Reddick continued his fast-tracked career to rise from Double-A to the big leagues in 2009. With excellent bat speed and exceptional eye-to-hand coordination, he unleashes a smooth, sweet swing from the left-side of the plate that produces surprising power for a player of his physical stature. Reddick has above-average power potential and generally hits balls hard with a lot of backspin into the gaps to produce extra-base hits. He has a knack for getting the barrel on the ball and can drive tough pitches on, or even off, the plate to all fields. Reddick can lift balls with relative ease. Although his speed doesn’t translate into him being a base stealer, he uses his speed and ability to judge balls off the bat well in the field, and has the makings of an above-average defensive outfielder. Able to play all three outfield positions, Reddick impressed enough in center field during his stay in the Eastern League that some scouts believe he could indeed stick at the position at the major league level. His quick release and precision accuracy highlight a solid throwing arm, enabling him to cut down runners trying to take the extra base and pile up outfield assists.

Development Needs: Reddick’s over-aggressiveness and need to develop a more patient approach have been well documented over the last couple of seasons. After making some strides with this aspect of his offensive game in Double-A, Reddick regressed at Triple-A and the big league level with his approach, which caused him to struggle considerably to produce consistent contact. He chased a lot of high fastballs out of the strike zone and became pull-happy at the plate. Getting back on track with his development is the key need for him to take advantage of his above-average offensive skills and be a consistent hitter at the highest level. More use of the opposite field and utilizing his quick hands on balls running away from him, rather than trying to jerk these pitches, will enable Reddick to use the whole field more to combat pitchers from working him away consistently. The goal at the plate for him is to be more selective in the pitches he picks out and stray away from getting himself out early in the count. This improvement doesn’t necessarily have to be a spike in the number of walks he draws, but more focus towards having quality at-bats and keeping his weight back longer before exploding through the ball.

2010 Outlook: Reddick has been having a strong spring in major league camp, and he seems to be tightening up his approach some from the end of last season. Unless there is an outfield injury in the days leading up to opening day, he’ll report to Pawtucket to begin the year to continue his seasoning and his work on sharpening his pitch selection in the upper minors. After struggling with the initial jump to Double-A in 2008, Reddick came back an improved player in 2009. He has the history of making adjustments on his side, and 2010 will be a season focused on making further adjustments to prove he can be a consistent hitter at the major league level. Improved contact rates, a cut in his strikeouts, and better pitch selection will all be signs that he is back on track with his development at the plate. With the potential to be a regular in a corner outfield position for the Boston Red Sox, Reddick has a challenging season in front of him, and he hopes to prove he’s going to be a fixture for seasons to come.