Ryan Kalish is past prospect status, having spent 282 AB over parts of the past three seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Of course, he also does not qualify as an established veteran that fantasy owners are thirsting to draft, or is even on their radars for that matter. He falls somewhere in the middle, which often is a fantasy wasteland.
That said, does it mean he is a name tha should simply be ignored? As it is, all that stands in his way of playing time is Jonny Gomes (or an injury to Jacoby Ellsbury or Shane Victorino, neither of which would be a complete surprise). In other words, Kalish is a name that fantasy owners need to at least become acquainted with, because at the least he has the potential to offer short-term value.
Of course, Kalish is no stranger to injuries himself. His 2012 campaign was delayed due to surgeries on his neck and shoulder. His season also ended prematurely, as both his shoulder and neck were sore. In fact, over the past two seasons he has gotten a total of 348 plate appearances between the Majors and minors, so gambling on his health is just as big of a concern.
That said, a healthy Kalish has shown that he can couple some power and speed to make a low-end fantasy target. In his breakout campaign of 2010 Kalish appeared at Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors and combined for 17 HR and 34 SB. Throw in an additional 32 extra base hits that season and there was a lot to be excited for.
Granted, there is the risk that he struggles to make contact. Over the past two years his minor league strikeout rate was 21.7%. While he did show a bit more potential earlier in his career, even in 2010 he was at 20.0% at Triple-A (143 AB). He also has not shown an ability to consistently hit the ball with authority in the Major Leagues (17.5%) or the minor leagues over the past two years (14.5%).
While we may be able to chalk the recent numbers up to his injuries, you combine it all together and it is justified to be concerned about his ability to hit for a high average. As it s he was just a .279 hitter in the minor leagues (based off a believable .327 BABIP).
If you are in an AL-only league and need a flier, is Kalish worth throwing on your bench? It’s hard to find the speed/power that he’s shown, so I would say yes (you can make the same argument for the deepest of mixed leagues as well). In standard leagues, though, take a wait and see approach. At least have his name in mind, given his upside, but don’t expect miracles.
What are your thoughts of Kalish? Is he a player you think could emerge as a viable fantasy option? Why or why not?
(Statistics came courtesy of Fangraphs and Minor League Central)
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