Ryan Kalish grew up in Red Bank, N.J. In high school, he starred on the gridiron and the diamond.
He was offered a baseball scholarship from the University of Virginia and planned on attending, in part, because the Cavaliers baseball program agreed to let him play football.
He had decided he would go to college and play two sports if he was unable to secure a professional baseball contract on the terms he believed appropriate for his skills (he was seeking a $600K signing bonus).
He had a shoulder injury that prevented him from pitching during his senior year. He spent most of the season playing through the injury as the club’s DH.
In spite of the injury, he had an excellent season. According to Jason McLeod, the Red Sox former Director of Amateur Scouting, Kalish didn’t swing and miss at a pitch all season.
The injury hurt his draft stock. Originally thought of as a second-rounder, he fell to the Red Sox in the ninth round.
Baseball America has Kalish rated as the organization’s No. 5 prospect. For the second year in a row, I think they have rated him too low. He brings a gridiron mentality to the baseball diamond… he is the next generation of Red Sox “dirt dawg.”
He is an outstanding athlete with excellent hand-eye coordination. He manages his at bats very well, waiting for pitches he can drive and taking a walk when it’s appropriate. He makes consistently solid contact and hits line drives to all fields.
Last year, he added loft to his swing and did a better job of using his legs...as a result he hit 18 home runs between Salem (A) and Portland (Double-A). He has good speed and is capable of stealing a base or taking an extra base.
He gets good jumps on balls in the outfield; but, he doesn’t have the speed for center field so he will likely end up in right field.
Most scouts question whether he will develop enough power to play a corner outfield slot, but I don’t share their reservations.
I believe last year was just the start and that he’ll develop enough power to play right field. I see him in the mold of Trot Nixon...with a little more power and speed.
A couple of years ago, Lowell Spinners manager Gary DiSarcina was asked about Kalish. He compared Kalish with one of his former teammates: “He has Darin Erstad’s personality… When I see Ryan’s face sometimes and I see the intensity, the only one I can compare him to is Darin”. He then added: “I love (Kalish). He’s my favorite player.”
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