The Red Sox have been forced to use a plethora of outfielders this season with Ellsbury and Crawford both being out for extended periods of time. Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava, among others, have played regularly in the Boston outfield during their absence.
Ryan Kalish has gotten two opportunities to make an impact in Boston but has failed miserably each time. During his first stint this season, Kalish appeared in 18 games, hitting .217/.238/.250 with just two extra-base hits, seven runs and five RBI.
He was recently recalled, and in his last six games, he’s only 3-for-19. Kalish is hitting just over .200 this season and has been anything but impactful.
2012 is not Kalish’s first crack at the majors, though. In 2010, he appeared in 53 games, hitting .252/.305/.405 with 16 extra-base hits, 26 runs, 24 RBI and even 10 stolen bases. Coming up through the majors, he was always considered one of the future pieces of the Red Sox outfield, long before Crawford was even a thought in the front office’s head.
Those times were also before Kalish had surgery on both his neck and shoulder. He’s clearly not the prospect he used to be, and yet, Boston still gives him the opportunities he once deserved.
Kalish was a bright talent in the minor leagues for several seasons, especially when he really started to catch peoples’ eyes in 2009, hitting 13 home runs for Double-A Portland. He was a great athlete who was thought to be able to roam the outfield with ease as well has hit pretty well.
This season, Kalish has been the worst Boston outfielder, and it’s not even close, according to FanGraphs. He’s been considerably worse than former Red Sox outfielders Marlon Byrd and Darnell McDonald. Even other prospects such as Che-Hsuan Lin and Lars Anderson—who’s now in the Cleveland Indians organization—were better.
Maybe it was Kalish’s injuries or maybe it’s just that he never panned out, but he’s not the answer in right field for the long-haul. Boston has to figure out what it’s going to do once Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract is up and what to do about a gaping hole in right field.
For the short-term, there’s Cody Ross who’s currently signed through the end of this season. Ross is having a fantastic season, and there is the possibility that Boston tries to sign him to a new deal at the end of the year. That’s for the short run, though, not the long-run.
Jackie Bradley is rapidly moving through the Red Sox minor league system and could be ready for a major-league call up as soon as late 2013. He, however, might be needed to play center field should Ellsbury decide to take his talents elsewhere after the 2013 season.
Other options include Bryce Brentz—who’s currently in Double-A Portland—and Xander Bogaerts—whose future at shortstop is still yet to be determined. Either of these three young talents would be exponentially better than playing Kalish for the next four-plus seasons.
Whether it’s re-signing Ross, calling up a prospect or making a trade for a right fielder, the Red Sox have to find someone instead of Ryan Kalish.