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Year in Review: Kole Calhoun Smashes Record Book10/06/2011 4:24 PM ET
By Sam Farber, Director of Broadcasting
Kole Calhoun was not supposed to be a member of the Inland Empire 66ers in 2011. As an 8th round pick from the 2010 draft, he was a high end talent in high A baseball, but unlike first round picks, who may be pushed, a player of Calhoun's draft status is supposed to get in line, patiently await an opportunity for promotion, and be grateful if one comes at all.
Anyone who's seen Kole Calhoun play knows the 66ers superstar won't wait for any opportunity he can create on his own. The outfielder/first baseman pushed coaches to add him to the 66ers roster in spring training rather than send him to Low A Cedar Rapids (where most members of his draft class spent 2011) and upon arrival did much more than just earn a spot. Calhoun was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse, and, in almost every offensive category on the statistical leader board as well.
In comparison to the rest of the California League, in 2011 Kole Calhoun established the longest streak of games in which he reached base safely (47) from mid-July to early September. In that span he hit .357 with eight home runs and 41 RBI. In 2011 Calhoun was third in the California League in extra-base hits (64) and total bases (28), fourth in total hits (166), slugging percentage (.547) and on-base percentage (.410), fifth in RBI (99) and games played (133), and was sixth in batting (.324).
The numbers are nice the most impressive part of Calhoun's campaign was his ability to will the team to victory. Despite being in the bottom half of the California League in team batting average, runs and homers, and falling as far as 15 games below .500, Inland Empire routinely rebounded to piece together win streaks and eventually crack the playoff picture.
While a sub-.500 season may not seem worth remembering in comparison to the championship seasons in Inland Empire's franchise history, the effort Calhoun put up will not soon be forgotten. Calhoun is currently sixth in franchise history with a .324 lifetime average in an Inland Empire uniform. He is also on the team's single season high list for hits (5th with 166), runs (7th with 94), batting average (7th at .324), doubles (8th with 36), RBI (9th with 99) and walks (9th with 73).
WHO COULD BE THE NEXT CALHOUN:
Kaleb Cowart- 3B 2011 w/ Rookie Orem (.283, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 11/15 SB) He's a long shot to make the roster because he was drafted out of high school in 2010 (albeit 18th overall) and really only has one season of experience under his belt. But then again, Calhoun barely had a year's experience as a pro and he made it. Cowart hit better than .350 his first month of the 2011 season, has a good arm at third (also pitched in high school) and considering his age (he will turn 20 during the 2012 season) he would be likely to stay for the full season if he were slated to join the 66ers at the start.
Randal Grichuk- OF 2011 w/ Low-A CR and Hi-A IE (.246, 3 HR, 19 RBI) While Cowart is a long shot due to his youth, Grichuk may not approach Calhoun's numbers due to a potential push to send him farther up the chain should he find success early with Inland Empire. The Angels first round pick in 2009 (one spot ahead of Mike Trout), Grichuk's career has been marred by injuries, another reason some may doubt his chances of recording top 10 numbers in as many categories as Calhoun did. But if Grichuk spends all of 2012 with the 66ers and if he remains healthy, there is no doubt he has the power and talent to meet or exceed all the accomplishments Kole Calhoun hit in 2011.
Casey Haerther- 1B/DH 2011 w/Hi-A Inland Empire (.293, 8 HR, 68 RBI) The Angels are loaded at First Base top to bottom (Mark Trumbo, Gabe Jacobo, Brando Decker and 2011 first round pick C.J. Cron) so Casey Haerther may be blocked from advancing up the line, but at season's end there was obviously a list of things the 66ers first baseman had to work on in the off season. Most notably was his defense. Haerther played 63 games at first in 2011 but only three of those came in the final month of the season and with nine errors Haerther had the second worst fielding percentage in the league among first baseman with 60 or more games played at the position in the California League. But there is no doubt about Haerther's bat. Casey was one of the most consistent 66ers at the bat, and if he does return for another year to work on his defense the 66ers could see an added boost from his offense which could land him with a Calhoun like season.