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It’s been a brutal, injury riddled season thus far, and the Red Sox have been forced to rely on contributions from unlikely sources all year. We’ve seen walk-off doubles from Darnell McDonald, grand slams from of Daniel Nava and perhaps one too many at-bats from the likes of Jeremy Hermida and Eric Patterson. However, these are all players who are career minor leaguers (except Hermida), with little expected of them. This past week, Sox fans got their first look at Ryan Kalish, a promising 21-year-old outfielder who has given the lineup a huge spark by hitting .314, including a huge insurance home run in the Yankees series.
Kalish is another product of a strong Red Sox farm system that in recent years has developed stars such as Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz. A standout in baseball, basketball and football, the outfielder was selected out of high school in the 9th round of the 2006 draft. Despite suffering a broken hamate bone in his wrist in 2007, Kalish was able to persevere and develop to the point where ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him as baseball’s 86th best prospect and the 5th best in the Red Sox system.
Kalish fits the profile of a classic five-tool player; that is, someone who hits for good average and power, runs the bases well, plays great defense and owns a strong throwing arm. He has been described by his managers and coaches as a cross between J.D. Drew and former Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon; he has the overall skills that Drew possesses and the toughness that Nixon became known for in his years in Boston. While dealing with his broken wrist, Kalish was able to fix some holes in his swing and has improved his power, as he demonstrated with his game-icing homer against the Yankees. While he is not the top prospect in the organization, it should be no surprise that he has been able to perform right away given his impressive skill set.
Ryan Kalish’s situation is comparable to Jacoby Ellsbury’s in 2007. Both performed well at Pawtucket and earned late season promotions to the Majors. Like Ellsbury three years ago, Kalish had made an immediate impact and should be here to stay at the Major League level.