Ryan Kalish has been waiting patiently for the chance to resume his once-promising MLB career. Following a 2010 season in which he had a productive—if unspectacular—rookie campaign for the Red Sox, it was expected that Kalish would take his position as the Red Sox right fielder of the future.
But it didn’t work out that way. Instead, minor league teammate Josh Reddick was the one to make an impact with the Sox and was a key cog in what was nearly a playoff team last season. Meanwhile, Kalish’s 2011 was lost due to injury, as he didn’t play a game in the majors while battling both neck and shoulder problems.
The 24-year-old outfielder had neck surgery in September and also went under the knife in November to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. While he’s healthy enough to play this season, he does expect to feel discomfort in his neck for the remainder of the year.
Even though he’s still afflicted, Kalish showed that he deserved another chance to grab that starting spot, putting up a spectacular line of .378/.435/.757 in 44 at-bats at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2012.
It took quite the series of events to get him to this point. Reddick was traded in the offseason for bullpen help, and this year, Red Sox outfielders have been hit by an unprecedented number of injures. If either Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford or Cody Ross were healthy right now, Kalish probably wouldn't get this chance.
A ninth-round draft pick out of high school in 2006, he emerged as a potential star after a solid minor league campaign in 2009. After he hit only nine home runs in three years of minor league ball, Kalish’s 2009 season featured 18 homers, 13 of which were at Double-A.
Who will have the better career?
In 2010, he hit .293/.404/.527 in 41 games at AA and, after being promoted to Triple-A, saw a minimal drop-off to .294/.356/.476. The Red Sox gave him a chance in their outfield later in the season, and he held his own by hitting .252/.305/.405 in 53 games while leading the team in stolen bases with 10.
After a lost 2011 in which Kalish not only had to watch his close friend Reddick have the success that he should have had but also see the team collapse in historic fashion, Kalish was surely marking the time when he could finally contribute to the club again.
And in a time of continuous turmoil for the organization in a season where they can’t seem to get past .500, Kalish has the ability to provide both the offensive boost and clubhouse energy to get this team going in a positive direction.
Right now, Kalish is focused on finally being healthy and merely helping the Red Sox in any way he can. If his past is any indication, Boston will be quite pleased by his much-needed contributions to the team.