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SoxProspects News

May 3, 2010 at 9:11 AM

The Book: Ryan Kalish

New to the SoxProspects lineup in 2010, The Book will review selected, single-game prospect performances from a first-hand perspective. The box score can only tell so much of the story – one batter’s 0 for 4 may have included two balls lined right at fielders and a poor strikeout call by the umpire, while another’s 2 for 3 may result from a bloop hit, a poor infield play not ruled an error, and a walk by an erratic pitcher. Here, we will go beyond the box score, giving a scout’s eye view of one game in the season of a prospect.

OF Ryan Kalish
Date: May 2, 2010
Team: Portland Sea Dogs

Line: 2 for 3, single, 2-run double, 1 stolen base, 2 walks, 1 strikeout looking, 1 error (throw)

Approach/Plate Discipline: Kalish continues to show the knack for working deep into counts and the advanced pitch recognition skills necessary to select pitches he can handle. In 5 at-bats against New Britain, he saw twenty-one pitches and worked three consecutive six-pitch at-bats, going 3-and-2 each time at the plate. Kalish swung at four fastballs, putting two of them into play for line drives and fouling the other two off. He takes a lot of pitches and isn’t afraid to hit with a strike or two. Kalish didn’t panic with two strikes, and seemed unfazed when he took a called third strike on the outside corner. He was also aggressive when necessary, as both of his hits came on fastballs early in the count. His double down the right-field line came on the first pitch he saw from New Britain’s left-handed starting pitcher, Tyler Robertson, in the first inning. Adept at picking up off-speed pitches, he’s rarely fooled, taking two curveballs in his second at-bat before walking on an inside fastball and taking a changeup on 3-and-2 in his next at-bat to work a walk. One area where Kalish could stand to improve is the way he attacks breaking balls, as he let a hanging pitch go in his second at-bat that would have been a good pitch to drive in the air.

Swing: Starting with an upright stance and with his hands held high up in line with his helmet, Kalish goes into more of a crouch upon pitch approach, while bringing his hands into a good position to attack the baseball. Possessing a level swing, he can add a little bit of lift when he is zeroing in on an offering he has chosen to attack, especially ahead in the count. Kalish rifled a belt-high fastball in the middle of the plate into the right-field corner on a line for his first hit of the day. With a little extra lift in his swing, the ball likely would have carried over the fence. Kalish keeps his weight back well and has a short stride that keeps him from committing his hands too early. He demonstrated this attribute well in his final at-bat of the day, lining a 1-0 fastball back up the middle that was running slightly down and away from him. With above-average bat speed and strong wrists, he’s quick enough on inside pitches and covers the plate well on those moving away from him. Kalish’s swing doesn’t project him to have power to all fields, but he has a sweet spot from the right-field line into the right-centerfield gap, with the ball jumping well off his bat and good rotation in his lower body to turn on offerings in the middle of the plate and on the inside corner.

Take: Kalish has made strong improvements since returning to full health in 2009 after suffering through the lingering effects of surgery to remove his hammate bone late in 2007. A gritty player who plays with an edge, Kalish has a football mentality and puts it all on the line, which he showed when he bowled New Britain catcher Toby Gardenhire over in the first inning on a close play at the plate. Teammates, coaches, and people close to the Sea Dogs all go out of their way to comment on the strength of his work ethic. Teammate and fellow outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin referred to Kalish as the “hardest worker he has ever seen.” Given his strong approach at the plate, he’s got an excellent foundation to sustain his on-base trends as he continues to rise up the ranks of the Red Sox system. A naturally strong well-filled-out player, the potential is there for him to demonstrate slightly above-average power at the major league level, and possibly a little more if he can be more aggressive with the pitches he can drive in the air, while lifting with his swing as he makes contact. Right now, Kalish looks like a player that is about to go on an extended stretch of producing solid contact in the Eastern League, as he is well balanced, in control of his at-bats, and most importantly comfortable in the batter’s box. All signs point toward him trending in the right direction, which should push him up another level as the summer months heat up.