BOSTON (AP) – Nineteen-year-old Ryan Kalish has been a professional ballplayer for just about a year, but when he talks to his minor-league teammates about playing in Fenway Park, he does so with authority.
“I just let them know this is the coolest experience you’re going to have,” said the Red Sox prospect, who made his pro debut in last year’s “Futures at Fenway” exhibition. “Just standing on this field makes me want to play. Once they get here, they’ll get the chills, too.”
After selling out Fenway for last year’s doubleheader, which featured Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket and Single-A Lowell, the Red Sox will repeat the event on Aug. 11 with Lowell and Double-A Portland. Several prospects were at Fenway on Monday for the announcement.
“For minor-league players to be able to come once a year and play in the major-league ballpark is something we can’t recreate,” said Mike Hazen, Boston’s director of player development. “Part of that is just removing the mystique of walking on the field for the first time.”
Among those brought Monday was Nick Hagadone, Boston’s first pick in this year’s draft.
The 21-year-old left-hander was scheduled to make his professional debut for Lowell on Sunday night, but the game was rained out after he had warmed up; he’ll pitch Friday instead.
“To get to play a game here will be a lot of fun, too,” said Hagadone, who played in the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field while at the University of Washington.
An All-Pac 10 selection as a junior, Hagadone was drafted last month with the 55th overall pick.
He signed on July 5 and was assigned to Lowell of the New York-Penn League, which produced current Red Sox players Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis.
“You definitely get a sense of the tradition,” Hagadone said.
“Seeing Papelbon’s picture in the (Lowell) stadium just makes you realize this can be the start of a long career. If those guys can make it, so can you.”
Kalish learned he was a ninth-round draft choice last year when he got a cell phone call from the Red Sox as he was walking into his high school graduation ceremony. Tipped off that the club was interested, he had a Boston cap tucked into his robe and wore it when he walked on stage to receive his diploma.
“They were the last team left to really want me,” said Kalish, an outfielder who hurt his left shoulder and spent his whole senior year as a designated hitter.
“No one wants that. They took a chance.”
Kalish also played quarterback and strong safety in high school in New Jersey and was headed to Virginia before getting the deal he wanted from the Red Sox.
“Football and baseball were even,” said Kalish, who is batting .372 with a league-leading 27 runs and 18 steals. “I was never really a football player. I was a baseball player playing football. I made a lot of friends playing football, but this is what I wanted to do.”