On March 24, 2015, I posted a blog about a now long-forgotten Red Sox outfielder named Ryan Kalish. In 2010 spring training, he excited both fans and writers, just as Jackie Bradley Jr, Xander Bogearts, Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi have in more recent years.
I wrote that Kalish, a Dorchester native who grew up in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, had a minor league career with lots of ups and few downs, starting with the short-season Lowell Spinners in 07. His slash there was .368/.471/.540 and he was leading the league in stolen bases. On July 16, however, he was hit in the wrist and missed the rest of the season. But by 09, he had advanced to Double-A Portland, where he exploded to .302 with a .561 SLG, while leading Sox minor leaguers in walks, runs and total bases.
Ryan was the talk of the camp in 2010. Gordon Edes wrote that “he gives off vibes of one on a collision course with better things.” Brought up to the parent club on July 31, he immediately cracked the lineup. On August 6 he hit his first homer, and later slammed two grand slams at Fenway, tying a Sox rookie record. He also made some circus catches in the outfield. For the season, he batted ,252 with 4 homers and 24 rbi’s. He would receive the Harry Agannis Award as top Red Sox rookie. He should have started in the outfield on Opening Day 2011, but roster problems intervened.
With big money being paid to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, JD Drew, and the ill-fated Carl Crawford, he began the year at Pawtucket. It was downhill from there. Early in the season, the ever-aggressive Kalish slammed into a wall and hurt his shoulder. The young star suffered greatly, both at bat and in the field. In 2013 he underwent two more surgeries, including a metal plate in his shoulder. He eventually bounced from the Sox to the Cubs, where in 2014 he posted an unsatisfactory.248/.295/.347.
A minor league deal with Toronto fell through, but in the winter of 15-16 he began playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League, trying to attract the interest of scouts. He also had a stint with the Sioux City Explorers of an independent league. After a turn at Triple-A Iowa, he resurfaced with the Cubs last year, but played only sparingly. At present he is still in their minor league system, but probably will be unable to play until midseason.
No one can accuse Ryan Kalish of not hanging in there. If only…..