WEEI's Alex Speier posted moments ago on Sox prospect Ryan Kalish's season-ending surgery, which is slated for Thursday.
Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish will undergo season-ending surgery on Thursday to repair a bulging disk in the neck that is impinging a nerve, according to a team source. The outfielder was placed on the DL last week due to a recurrence of soreness in his upper trapezius/neck region. He flew to Los Angeles this week to consult with orthopedist Dr. Robert Watkins, when the decision was made to have surgery.
A three-month course of recovery and rehab is expected. Assuming that timetable holds true, Kalish would be able to be at full strength by spring training.
Obviously, the fact that his surgery is season-ending is relatively meaningless to Sox fans in 2011 (unless you're a diehard PawSox fan). Maybe he would get a call-up, but JD Drew's on his way back, and Kalish isn't leap-frogging Josh Reddick this late in the year, despite Josh's recent struggles.
My thoughts move to 2012. With JD Drew all but certainly leaving, and an outfield replacement not high on the Sox priority list for the offseason, right field could come down to Kalish vs. Reddick. While Kalish might be ready for spring training, is it realistic to expect him to have a shot at the big club?
It's a tricky situation. On the one hand, Reddick has proven that he can handle big-league pitching. Despite tailing off, his OPS on the year is a decent .799, with a significantly improved batting eye (.330 OBP compared to .206 and .210 in his previous cups of coffee), and more pop than expected with a .469 SLG.
However, Kalish is the higher-ranked prospect. SoxProspects.com lists Kalish as the no. 2 prospect in the Red Sox depleted minor-league system, while Reddick was never that well loved. Kalish is widely thought of as a higher-caliber player, and you know what that means: more upside. In the past, Theo has moved on young players he deems not to have enough upside: Kason Gabbard, Justin Masterson (though some revisionist history is being done now), Brandon Moss, and David Murphy were among the prospects considered relatively expendable. Even consider the Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena trade: While Bronson was hardly a prospect, he was a known quantity as a back-of-the-rotation starter. Wily Mo was a swing for the fences (appropriately), on which Theo whiffed (also appropriately). The motivation for the move, clearly, was upside.
Meanwhile, Theo often stockpiles former "busts" who are of a certain pedigree. In recent years, Jeremy Hermida, Andrew Miller, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have all found themselves go from supposed team savior to released or traded in a matter of years, only to catch on with the Red Sox for a chance to reclaim their once-promising futures.
I've liked what I've seen from Reddick, but based on Theo's behavior, I think Kalish will be given every chance to show what he has, even in 2012. Maybe Reddick stays the year and Kalish gets more seasoning -- Kalish is a year younger than Reddick (23 to 24), so an argument could be made to give him another year in the minors. But I can just as easily see Theo decide to move Reddick, or banish him to a Jed Lowrie role in the outfield, if Theo doesn't consider him an impact player going forward.