The Cubs are taking another page from their “Red Sox Way” handbook, hoping outfielder Ryan Kalish can rediscover what made him a dynamic prospect in Boston.
Kalish, infielder Ryan Roberts and catcher John Baker have signed minor-league deals with invitations to major-league spring training, the Cubs announced Friday. Kalish had been one of those over-slot, two-sport stars signed by the Theo Epstein administration.
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Kalish turned down a scholarship to the University of Virginia –and the chance to play baseball and football – after being picked in the ninth round of the 2006 draft out of Red Bank Catholic High School in New Jersey.
He brought some energy to the 2010 Red Sox, making his big-league debut at age 22 and hitting .252 with four homers, 24 RBI and 10 stoles bases in 53 games. But injuries derailed his on-the-fast-track career.
Kalish missed the entire 2013 season that ended with another World Series parade in Boston. He began the year recovering from right shoulder surgery and underwent cervical fusion surgery in August, all part of the health issues that have kept him sidelined for most of the last three years.
Kalish became a free agent this month when the Red Sox took his spot on the 40-man roster and didn’t tender him a 2014 contract.
Kalish – who will turn 26 just before Opening Day – knows this front office, from Epstein to general manager Jed Hoyer to scouting/player development VP Jason McLeod.
It’s another Red Sox connection after the Cubs paid Anthony Rizzo to be their franchise first baseman and failed to catch lightning-in-a-bottle with reliever Daniel Bard.
Roberts – who’s probably best known for his tattoos – became a spare player with the Tampa Bay Rays but did put together a 19-homer, 65-RBI season with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.
Baker – who’s appeared in 291 career games with the Florida Marlins and San Diego Padres – figures to be in the third-catcher mix along with Eli Whiteside.