Ryan Kalish is turning some heads in Cubs camp.
No, Kalish still hasn't locked down a spot on the 25 man roster just yet. However, the former 9th round pick by this Cubs front office (then with the Boston Red Sox) is making a strong bid for a back-up outfielder spot, if not possibly a larger role.
Many, including me, have noted just how right-handed the Cubs could turn out to be if even some of their top hitting prospects were to pan out. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer always had plenty of left-handed hitters throughout their Red Sox line ups. Could Kalish factor in here?
The former Boston prospect will only be 26 come Opening Day. All Kalish has done thus far is hit .300 with five walks and five stolen bases. He has finally recovered from a serious neck procedure (the same one Peyton Manning had before breaking passing records last season) and a series of shoulder injuries. So could he end up being more than just a fifth outfielder?
You never know. Teams have sniffed around right fielder Nate Schierholtz; maybe a deal goes down at some point and Kalish finally gets his chance.
"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."
Sounds like the type of player this outfit covets.
“Thankfully, he’s healthy,” Renteria said. “We’re trying to give him as many opportunities as we can to get out there. He busts his rear end every single day and gives you some really good at-bats. He’s playing a very good outfield and he’s running the bases well. So there’s a lot of things to like about Kalish.”
There are some other ways for the Cubs rebuilding process to take the next step in addition to developing prospects. A lucky find here and there can help the process out immensely (see David Ortiz).
No one expects a "Big Papi" outcome here, but a healthy and productive Kalish could not only be a feel-good story, but could also help the organization recover quicker as well.
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