2013 Angels Prospects Countdown #5: Kole Calhoun

The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with an Angels prospect who is actually big league ready. SAY WHA?!??!!!!

Kole Calhoun
Position: OF  Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Left Throws: Left  Height: 5'10" Weight: 190 lbs.
Age: 25  Born: 10/14/87

2012 Season Stats
Triple-A: 463 PA, .298 AVG, .369 OBP, .507 SLG, 30 2B, 7 3B, 14 HR, 73 RBI, 88 SO, 12 SB, 3 CS, .346 BABIP
MLB: 25 PA, .174 AVG, .240 OBP, .217 SLG, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 6 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, .235 BABIP

Contact – B.  There really isn’t a better way to put this.  Calhoun’s path to the ball is so simple, so direct, it’s a thing of beauty.  So many other hitters incorporate complicated timing mechanisms and loads, whether they be upper body or lower body.  I see none of that with Calhoun.  It’s a beautiful lefty swing, short, compact, powerful, capable of driving the ball to all parts of the field.

Power – B+.  Calhoun has the type of power that raises your eyebrows.  He’s short and stocky, clearly he looks strong.  Then when you see the smoothness of his stroke when he drives through the ball, it almost seems a though he could swing harder and hit the ball further if he wanted, though I’m glad he doesn’t. 

Discipline – B+. I’ve watched him extensively at every level, and never once have I seen him go down on three pitches chasing.  Calhoun works the counts into his favor and is more than willing to drive the ball on the outer half of the plate to the opposite field.  His gap power isn’t limited to the right side of the field.   

Speed – B.  Calhoun doesn’t have lightning speed, but it’s enough to play all three outfield positions capably.  On the bases, he’s just a smart runner, capable of timing pitchers.  With a full time gig, he could steal 20 per season.

Arm – A.  He’s got a strong left handed arm, perfectly suited for RF. 

Performance – B+.  In 2011, Calhoun skipped over A Ball and was a stud in the Cal League.  In 2012, he skipped over AA completely, went straight to AAA and more than held his own.  He also had some cameos with the Angels and showed he wasn’t overmatched in the least. 

Projection – B. This is where I personally differ from the rest of the publication sites.  Last spring, I sat at the minor league fields with a group of scouts from other teams and Angels coaches.  There was just a different amount of attention being played when he stepped up to the plate, they (we) all stopped talking, leaned forward a little closer and watched him drive two pitches off the wall in dead CF in two consecutive at bats.  Heads were shaking, notes were being taken, and the consensus was, “this kid is really good, the Angels actually have something here”.

Every other publication will tell you he projects as a 4th outfielder, but in all honesty, his game is too complete, his lefty swing projects too much power, he hits for too high of average, shows enough discipline and defensive skills that I can’t in good faith say he’s not a starting caliber major leaguer.  I think Kole Calhoun could turn into a solid .270 hitter someday that gets on base, plays good defense, hits 20 HR and steals 20 bases. He’s 25 years old, and the Angels system is already loaded, so chances are, he won’t get that opportunity here.  Still, he’d make a great 4th outfielder, and I hope once Travis Witherspoon develops, Calhoun gets a chance somewhere and the Angels get something useful in return.

In essence, I’m going out on a limb and am saying that Kole Calhoun will be an above replacement level outfielder in the major leagues.  The tools, while they don’t jump off the page at you, are most certainly there.  And it’s the complete package too.  He really is a heck of a ball player.     

Estimated MLB Arrival Date – Now

(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)

Season Summary: Kole Calhoun was the 2012 of the Reggie Willits Memorial Award given every year to the Angels outfielder that spends the entire season getting promoted and demoted between the Majors and Triple-A Salt Lake. Kole only got into 21 games in the bigs in 2012, but he warmed the bench for several games in addition to that as he was often recalled to provide short-term depth. When he wasn't collecting ass splinters, Calhoun was taking care of business in Triple-A. His numbers weren't exactly monstrous, but they were still plenty impressive and that is before factoring in that he skipped from High-A in 2011 to Triple-A in 2012.

In a lot of ways, Calhoun is the shining example of what the Dipoto regime is hoping to accomplish by drafting so many college players. Calhoun lacks elite tools, but he has plenty of good ones and is a pretty polished product, so he was able to rocket through the system and is now ready to compete for a roster spot in the majors despite being drafted so recently.

What to Expect in 2013: Calhoun may be ready for big league action, but he'll probably not see much of it and end up winning the Willits Award again. It is strictly a numbers game in this case as the Angels don't have much of a need for a fifth outfielder. They do kind of need a left-handed bat off the bench, so he has a shot if they prioritize that need, but more likely he will have to wait until injury strikes to get a promotion. That's too bad really because there is a very good chance that he is already better than Vernon Wells both with the bat and the glove. Kole just doesn't have that stupid contract, so he gets the short end of the stick.

It really is too bad because Calhoun actually has the chops to be more than a reserve too. One of the things he did in 2012 at Triple-A that really impressed me was how he handled left-handed pitching. His OPS was only about .100 points lower than his OPS against righties, so he can clearly more than hold his own. This isn't really a small sample anomaly either as Calhoun had similar splits all throughout his minor league career, brief though it might be.

Alas, Calhoun will spend almost all of his time at Salt Lake where he will undoubtedly rake, assuming he doesn't get bored waiting for his phone to ring with a call from the 714 area code.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of Monkeywithahalo.com and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.