By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
May 16, 2010
I’m sure Kole Calhoun has heard his entire life that he lacks the tools to make it. When the stocky left-handed hitting 2009 College World Series star crossed paths with one of my scouting cards recently, I had to agree. But you have to be careful with a guy like this. Left-handed power, the ability to pull the ball, and the persona of a devil-may-care survivor might just be enough to help him find himself in the right place at the right time a few years down the line.
Indeed, when you break down the running, throwing and defense, he won’t be at the front of the line. His future will be simple: he’s going to have to hit so much that he makes it harder for decision makers who are going to want to bury him because of his otherwise below-average tools. It’s all about left-handed bat speed and raw power. He’s not going to be off the charts in terms of raw, but his hands will get inside good velocity, and he’s got enough power projection to be dangerous. But he’s got to be consistent right away, because guys like this never get a lot of slack in the minor leagues.
Bat speed and power are what is going to give him the best chance to claw his way to the top, I would bet, as an extra man and a left-handed bat off the bench. This guy could totally hit enough to make me shove the grades up my you-know-what, but here’s how scouts will see him. He lacks a secondary tool. But you better be careful to bury him completely because the bat might come back to bite you. I think he’s a pull hitter and his power is pull. I didn’t see any balls go out to left field for the left-handed hitter, so he will have to prove he can cover enough to be dangerous. I think this guy’s real organizational value will be for the left-handed pop off the bench. I’ve seen guys like this scratch and claw their way to the big leagues, because if you hit, they won’t care about anything else. They don’t usually become stars or even starters, but are the kind of fringy guys who if they get the shot at the right place at the right time and turn it on, next thing you know, you’re Matt Stairs and playing until you are 40 and the sportswriters can’t figure out why a guy like this has known all along – good luck putting a fastball past me.
Calhoun faced Gerrit Cole three times the night I saw him and was the only guy in the ASU lineup I thought that had the bat speed to adapt and speed up to Cole. The ASU Kole doubled off the UCLA Cole, and it wasn’t cheap. It was clean and squared up, would have been a double with wood. For me, Calhoun has the bat speed to kill big league mistakes, which is what it’s all about. Do that and they won’t care how you run or throw.