Ryan Kalish saw his fair share of ballparks during a stellar 2010 season that had him go from the Eastern League to the International League to the American League. An explosive and crafty athlete, Kalish leapt through the Red Sox system in a few short months, an accomplishment that can often take players several years.
Last season the 22 year-old New Jersey native put up solid numbers at Portland (AA), Pawtucket (AAA), and Boston where he impressed with his talent and attitude. He hit .293 in 41 games for Portland with 8 HR & 29 RBI along with 13 stolen bases (in 14 attempts). Kalish was promoted to Pawtucket on June 1 and in 37 games for the PawSox he batted .294 with 5 HR & 18 RBI along with 12 SB (in 14 tries). His rapid rise continued with a call-up to Boston on July 31 for his Major League debut. In 53 games for the Red Sox the lefty hitter batted .252 wit 11 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, and 10 SB (in 11 attempts).
"It was awesome...I mean it's everybody's dream playing in the major leagues and when that day finally came it was great. It was during the final two months of the season in the middle of our playoff push," said Kalish. "Obviously we [Boston Red Sox] didn't make it which was disappointing but I got to play in some meaningful games."
The experience he gained in Boston last August and September was memorable in many ways.
"In Boston all the guys treated me really well. All they expect you to do is go out there and play hard and that's what I really pride myself in doing. All the guys were very helpful and very supportive. Just along the lines of outfielders guys like Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald were great to me. I learned so much being around those guys because they've been in the game for a long time," said Kalish.
The delicate balance between being playing in the minors and spending time on the major league level is a feat Kalish seems to have already mastered.
"I just feel like there is so much more for me that I want to accomplish. Playing in the major leagues for those two months was obviously a huge thing for me but that's not where I want to stop. I want to be a part of the Red Sox, I want to be part of championships, I want to be a good teammate," explained Kalish.
"Individually the only way to do that is to keep your highs low and your lows high. You just have to stay on that even path so when your time does come again hopefully you'll be ready and can stay up there and become an everyday major leaguer. You strive to be like the older guys because that's what they are there and that's why I feel it's such a cool place to be."
Since Boston's season ended on October 3 with a win vs. the New York Yankees, Kalish has been striving towards improvement. He spent a portion of his off-season at Athlete's Performance in Tempe, Arizona. A haven for elite professional athletes, the center prides itself on being a preferred and premiere place for dedicated athletes to train.
"It's great there. You workout, they cook your meals for you - they have a nutritionist. It's everything you could ask for," said Kalish.
In addition to his time spent in Arizona, Kalish has been working on his mental game. Known for his constant desire to do whatever it takes to help his club win, the outfield prospect has been adjusting his approach at the plate.
Kalish explained, "I'm trying to focus more, to have a clear head during my at bats. It's tough to play well when you have a lot going on in your head."
With the addition of Carl Crawford, Boston's outfield seems to be locked up for the time being. Pawtucket, a probable destination for Kalish to begin the 2011 season, also has something to offer.
"Pawtucket offers being able to play every day. You know being in Boston would be great, but so would being able to play every day," said Kalish.
"I'm not set on anything. I'm just trying to play hard and learn from all these guys and get better and whenever that time comes for the Red Sox to ask me to help them win, I'll be ready."
The opportunity to play in the Red Sox organization is something Kalish is thankful for. "Playing for the Red Sox is incredible. It's an incredible honor that they have faith in me," he said.
Kalish will carry his experiences and expectations into the 2011 season with McCoy Stadium and Fenway Park on his radar.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.