Lovullo, Hazen talk Lars-Reddick-Kalish
This isn’t the time of year Player Development wants to take center stage. This is when the Red Sox like to be in the thick of the postseason race. If anything, young players are sitting on the bench absorbing as they watch the veterans fight for a championship. But this year is different. The injury-marred Sox are six games out in the American League East with 16 games left. In other words, they need somewhat of a miracle to get back to the postseason.
So as an organization, the Sox are making the most of this time by letting three prospects — Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick — get regular playing time.
Two men who are are familiar with threse three 2006 draft picks as anyone were both in Seattle. They are Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo and Red Sox director of player development Mike Hazen. I had a chance to talk to both of them about the trio the other day, and here is a sampling of their thoughts.
Hazen on Kalish: “He’s a really good athlete. He’s a grinder, a baseball player, a hard worker, he’s earned everything he’s gotten so far. He needs to continue to do so. He’s a really talented player and we like him a lot and he’s had a good opportunity up here to show what he can do and he’s done a pretty good job of it so good for him. He’s worked really hard at this and he’s a great kid and a good teammate. He always has been. Our scouts did a pretty good job I think of identifying the talent of this kid five years ago.”
Hazen on Reddick and the key to adjusting after several moves up and down between the Majors and Minors: “Being able to relax and let the talent come through. Not try to do hit home runs and try to do too much with every swing on every pitch. That’s probably going to take some time, I would imagine. This is a tough level. This is the best in the world. It’s about learning and figuring it out and he’s got to continue to do that, show that consistency and take that approach, that BP approach, into the games day in and day out. It’s not one game here or one game there or one day here or one day there. He’s aware of it and he’s working on it and hopefully that’s going to start to translate pretty soon.”
Hazen on Lars Anderson, the last of the three players to mkae it to the Majors: “He’s had a good season. A lot of people somehow forget the Double-A season that he had. If we left him in Double-a, he probably would have had a really good year. He was pushed to Triple-A and he responded to those challenges, I think. The defensive side of the game, he’s really improved this year, which is great to see. He’s worked really hard at it. It’s good to see him come up here and get some results. I know he’s had a couple of tough Major League Spring Trainings so this is even better, to have him have that confidence going into the offseason that he belongs here. He can really play here. That will be good for him.”
Lovullo was the one who managed all three for most of the season. “You know what, first of all it was my honor this year to watch them grow and turn into the players they’re becoming. They worked hard. They responded to the things they’re being taught and they took it from there. They’re all special in their own unique way. They’re all going to be really good big leaguers and I get to watch that kind of translate right now first-hand and I sit here very pridefully watching what they’re doing.”
Lovullo on Kalish’s promotion: “It happened as quick as you could possibly imagine. We’re getting off the bus coming from the airport and within a 20-minute period, we had to get him up to Boston for a day game. I didn’t really have a chance to celebrate with him, but I got a chance to watch him play and perform and he was ready for the challenge. Of the three, he was probably the most ready for me because of the things that he was doing on a consistent basis. I think when you’re that young, if you start to show the consistency, you’re going to show us that you’re ready to go. He made the decision easy for us when it was time for him to get that call. It was a no brainer.”
Lovullo on Reddick keeping his head up after an early-season slump and some struggles during brief earlier call-ups to the big leagues: “From that standpoint, it was mostly a mental grind for him. He was a last send-down in spring training, a chance to make the team, a quick recall, sent down, another recall. His head was kind of spinning and for a young kid, that’s kind of a challenge. He feels like he belongs in the big leagues, yet taking most of his at-bats in the minor leagues. Some discussions were, let’s get off to a big start so you don’t dig yourself a big hole, which he did. It just seemed to really not fall apart, but just kind of spiral downward from there. He finally got comfortable after a couple of hundred at-bats and it was fun to watch him grow up and become a complete player. He worked on a ton of things fundamentally that have helped out and he almost hit .270 after a slow start. But mentally, it was a challenge for him and that was what I kind of talked to him about early on.”
Lovullo on how Reddick looks far more comfortable in this visit to the “show”: “You can see it. The at-bats that I saw were on TV. I saw the rushed approach. I saw a lot of early count outs. Now he’s just very in-tuned with what the pitcher is doing, he’s balanced. He’s working counts. It’s all translating into him being more productive here. It’s fun for us to watch, it’s fun for me to see it first-hand.”
Lovullo on the rare personality and persevearance of Lars Anderson: “He was the only guy that ever said to me, ‘I love you’ as he’s walking out to go to the big leagues. ‘Hey, I love you, man. I love you guys. Thank you, I’ll see you later.’ We kind of rejoiced and celebrated and that’s the best part of my job. So many people in player development have such a blueprint on who Lars Anderson is. I was the one guy who got a chance to tell him the good news. Lars, for me, grew up right before my eyes. He came and struggled from Double-A. He was hitting in the .190s, he raised his average 65, 70 points to have a very respectable Triple-A season, which is unusual for a guy that age and the struggles that he had. He worked hard to pick himself up. It was a good moment for me to watch these three kids grow up. It’s even a better moment for me to sit here and watch them at the big league level.”