Unfortunately for baseball fans, getting burned by prospects who are treating the high minors like their own private dance party comes with the territory. It doesn’t matter that Mike Trout went and eased the pain that Angels fans still felt from Brandon Wood (who, by the way, got released by the Orioles last month. Looks like I’m going to have to finally pull his Radio Flyer bandwagon over), it doesn’t change the fact that prospects fail. All the time. Prospects fail all the time.
So when the Angels called up Kole Calhoun last week, I tempered my excitement. Sure, Calhoun was striking out in only 11.7% of his plate appearances in AAA this season, but he struck out in 19% of them last season. Sure, he was slugging .617 at the time of his recall, but he was doing that in Salt Lake. The Bees’ ballpark is the most hitter friendly ballpark in the most hitter friendly league to ever be friendly to hitters in the history of both hitters and being friendly. Sure, he’s not J.B. Shuck. But he is also not Peter Bourjos. I still take Pete over Kole, and I’m sure most of you would as well.
But fans suffer from what I like to call “selective amnesia.” It doesn’t matter that, at one time, Dallas McPherson was going to be the power hitting heir apparent to Troy Glaus. It doesn’t matter that Brandon Wood was going to be a star. Kole Calhoun was finally coming up to help the big club, and the moment that the news hit Twitter, it exploded.
It’s no secret that Calhoun has been enjoying a great deal of success in AAA this season. His slash line of .354/.431/.617 is the kind of things that makes fans drool on themselves (Pro Tip: Get a bib when looking at certain minor leaguers stats. Drool can stain). He had the aforementioned 11.7% K-rate. And since he had a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ration in the PCL, it wasn’t hard to figure out that he had an 11.7% walk rate. Again, we be drooling. And in the three weeks leading up to his recall, Calhoun was hitting .381/.447/.710. In July, Mike Trout hit .379/.476/.632. Kole Calhoun was the PCL version of Mike Trout. Call him up.
And since his recall, Calhoun seemingly hasn’t missed a beat.
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Calhoun is still carrying a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He ha his first multi-hit game in the Majors on Thursday. Then he turned around and his first four-hit game last night. Topping it off by putting the Angels out in front in the eighth with his first big league home run. Off of Steven Delabar no less who had only allowed two home runs all season up to that point. Here, watch it again. If only for the bat flip potential that Calhoun posses.
In the past two weeks, the Angels have called up Chris Nelson and Calhoun. Hank Conger has been with the team all season, but is slowly but surely stealing all of the playing time away from Chris Iannetta. Although he can be a headache, J.B. Shuck has filled in for the oft-injured Peter Bourjos this season. And quite admirably at times. Garrett Richards is finally getting a chance to start and Nick Maronde replaced the jettisoned Scott Downs in the bullpen as the resident LOOGY.
The keys to the car that is the 2013 season have been handed over to the kids. And it’s not that I doubt that Josh Hamilton wants to win, it’s that it’s more fun watching Minor Leaguers with potential get a chance to play in stadium with a third deck. They seem to care more. They seem to try harder. And when they do something like, oh, I don’t know, hit a home run to give the team the lead, they get more excited because they are still in the process of realizing their dream of playing Major League Baseball.
Hall of Famer Bob Lemon once said; “Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.” The “kids” are getting a chance to play. Maybe we will get to see some excitement this season after all. It might not be in the form of team wins, but it will be in the form of all-or-nothing play from those on the roster who aren’t guaranteed a spot on the roster passed today.