There was a time not long ago (last year, in fact) when Ryan Kalish was ranked as the top prospect in the Red Sox’ system. Since then, however, a slew of injuries has derailed Kalish’s still young career. After a promising cup of coffee in 2010 where he hit .252/.305/.405 with 4 home runs and 10 stolen bases, Kalish started the 2011 season in Pawtucket due to the signing of Carl Crawford. Less than a month into the season, though, he injured his shoulder on a diving catch. He would essentially miss the rest of the season and then the start of the 2012 season.
He sat out the 2012 season until late May, where he got off to a very hot start at Triple-A Pawtucket before being called up to the majors with an injury to Ryan Sweeney. He’s played intermittently in the majors this season and hasn’t fared too well, batting .222/.260/.256 primarily as a backup outfielder. This has really brought up questions about the speedy 24 year old’s future with the Red Sox and whether the former top prospect will even come close to living up to his lofty expectations.
The first variable in Kalish’s future will be whether or not the Red Sox re-sign Cody Ross this winter. Ross, who they signed to a 1 year/$3 million deal this offseason, has outperformed all expectations to bat .279/.342/.513 with 20 home runs and 73 RBIs as one of few bright spots this season. Ross is perfect for Fenway Park and is allegedly a great clubhouse presence, so I would be sad to see him go.
However, even if the Red Sox do re-sign Ross, there still could be an opening in left field due to Carl Crawford being sent to Los Angeles. If they sign no outfielders, then left field would probably be Kalish’s job to lose. With a relatively weak free agent class, the Red Sox might leave the position up for grabs next spring training. That would give Kalish a chance for the job, along with Jerry Sands (acquired in the mega-trade) and Ryan Sweeney.
I think that the Red Sox should give Kalish a chance to prove himself at the big league level. All that starts this September with giving him a chance to play. I’d rank it highly unlikely that Scott Podsednik will be back for 2013, so why keep starting him over Kalish? Kalish has to prove that he can do more than occupy the bottom of a lineup and steal a few bases throughout his major league career and September 2012 is a good time to start.