With a depleted outfield after injuries to Vernon Wells and Ryan Langerhans, and the continued absence of Torii Hunter on the restricted list, the Angels have made a move to bring up one of their young prospects who they think will have a big impact on the club.
Just 12 months ago, Kole Calhoun was excitedly just trying to find some success in ‘A’ ball. Now, he’s in the majors, working through three levels in one year. After such a rapid rise, you’d worry that the young prospect would lose his edge now that he’s “arrived,” but for Calhoun, the key to his success has been his focus:
“That’s your No. 1 dream,” Calhoun said, a big smile decorating his face from the visiting clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum on Monday. “But it was more just taking it day by day, and going out and playing the game every day. The opportunities kept coming, just kept doing all right, and here I am.”
While his call-up has been prompted by the depletion of the Angels outfield, he’s earned a shot at the big leagues. The 24-year old left-handed hitter was an eighth round pick in the 2010 Draft after four years at Arizona State. Calhoun was named the Angels’ Minor League Player of the Year during his first full season of pro ball last year, batting .324 with 22 home runs and 99 RBI for Class A Inland Empire. He didn’t allow the accolades to calm his work ethic, though.
During the offseason, Calhoun spent time in the Venezuelan Winter League and then came into Spring Training ready to make some noise, and showed why he was rated as the 15th best prospect for the Angels. He turned quite a few heads with his perforamance, hitting .361 with six doubles and three RBI in 15 Cactus League games. He earned a spot with the Triple-A Salt Lake club, skipping Double-A outright, where he’s continued to swing the bat well. This season, he’s hitting .296 with a .365 on-base percentage, with 21 extra-base hits, including five home runs. He’s knocked in 31 RBI and also stolen six bases. He has looked ready to take the next step.
Calhoun will act as the fourth outfielder while Torii Hunter remains on the restricted list, but he could stay on even after Hunter’s return. The team loves Calhoun’s versatility, as he can play all three outfield positions and first base (because that’s what this club needs…another first baseman), and his maturity at the plate. They feel like he’s ready to contribute to the big league club as a role player off the bench. If Calhoun can stick in the majors, he’d be a major asset to rebuilding the roster depth that the Angels thought they would have as their major strength when the season started.