The Cubs are looking for some balance in their lineup, for both the present and the future.
I have heard for some time that manager Rick Renteria wants to find a left-handed hitter with speed to compliment the Cubs' riches of right-handed hitters that will eventually fill out their future lineup cards.
Lately, the buzz is that Ryan Kalish may be able to fill those shoes.
I wrote recently that Kalish could become a player in the Cubs outfield mix. Apparently the front office are big fans, dating back to their Boston days. I was surprised to hear just how highly they were thinking of him last week. Kalish, however, was once a top prospect in the Red Sox organization. Injuries have been the main culprit that has kept him from reaching that promise.
Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Wellington Castillo, and Starlin Castro are all right-handed hitters, and all likely a part of the future. As for lefties, only Anthony Rizzo is accounted for in most future lineup configurations.
So much can still change before any of that matters. Yet, Cubs brass and their skipper know they need more from the other side of the plate. The fact that Renteria would want a left-handed hitter with some wheels instead of pop may surprise some. The Cubs fully realize their strength will be their power.
The Cubs will also need some table setters. Players like Kalish, and possibly switch-hitting Arismendy Alcantara, could factor in areas Renteria covets: speed and balance. Renteria wants to run, much like those Padres teams with which he was associated.
Looking at the current roster, Kalish may push someone hard for playing time. There have been some whispers that his emergence has the Cubs taking calls on Nate Schierholtz. All Kalish did in yesterday's final spring tune-up was go 3-3, including grinding out an at bat that used his speed to produce an infield single. This could provide a dimension that is much needed early on in cold and windy Wrigley Field, when the park can play small.
Kalish is still only 26, and he could be a long-term piece moving forward. The pedigree is there and he can provide the type of at bats the front office likes to see. One scout says to use a young David DeJesus for a comp.
"Why not"? Says a scout with whom I spoke recently.
"[Kalish] has good speed, can work counts, take a walk, and he has shown average pop in the minors. Hoyer and McLeod were also big supporters of his in Boston."
Even if all of the Cubs top prospects pan out, a team can not realistically expect to field a team of all-stars. They are going to need some role players.
Players like Kalish can play a major role, now and in the future.
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