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Finally Healthy, Kalish Back In Boston

Carl Crawford (elbow) and Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) have been two of fantasy baseball's top outfield producers over the last few seasons, but the duo has played just seven total games -- all by Ellsbury -- for the Red Sox this year. Boston has been forced to use a dozen different outfielders to cover for their injuries so far, but it wasn't until this week that they were finally able to call on their top internal option: Ryan Kalish.

Kalish, 24, missed most of last season and the start of this season with a pair of surgeries: one for a bulging disc in his neck, the other for a torn labrum in his left (throwing) shoulder. He raked in 15 minor league games after coming off the DL -- .345/.449/.655 with five homers -- and has three singles in 12 plate appearances since being recalled three days ago. Kalish has started each of the last three games in center field and the plan is to keep running him out there over the next few weeks.

This isn't Kalish's first time in the show. He played 53 games for the 2010 Red Sox and hit a respectable .252/.305/.405 with four homers and ten steals (in eleven chances) in 179 plate appearances. The power-speed combination was his calling card all throughout the minors and is part of the reason why Baseball America considered him one of the game's top 100 prospects prior to the 2008 season. Kalish has 93 steals (in 113 chances) and 45 homers in just over 400 career minor league games, though a broken hamate bone in his wrist sapped his over-the-fence power for a few years earlier in his career.

Ellsbury took batting practice the other day for the first time since getting hurt and Carl Crawford recently started a throwing program, so those two are on the mend. Their returns are not imminent though, so Kalish's job is safe for the time being. I wouldn't expect a ton of homers just because they're hard to hit, even in Fenway Park, but Kalish has real sleeper potential in the other four traditional 5x5 scoring categories. He should hit for a solid average but even if he slumps into the .250-range, there will still be stolen bases, runs scored, and runs driven in to count on. Those last two categories are a gimme given the lineup around him. I'm a fan and although Kalish technically isn't a prospect, he's a young player with upside and a lot to offer fantasy owners.




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