Minnesota Twins right-handed pitcher Cole De Vries and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun have recently been promoted from the minor leagues and are now contributing to their respective ML Clubs. Neither prospect has received much fanfare nor were they considered top 10 prospects in their respective systems prior to the 2012 season by Baseball America. Irrespective of their prospect stats both players are living out their dreams and competing at the highest level of professional baseball so let’s take a look at how and why they got there.
Cole De Vries, 27, got the call to the big leagues with the designation for assignment of veteran Jason Marquis. The elder Marquis had struggled to a line of 8.47 ERA and a paltry 3.2 K/9 and an 3.7 BB/9 over 34 innings and the Twins decided to move on. De Vries was the guy the Twins tabbed to fill Marquis extremely small shoes and he has performed decently. A Minnesota native De Vries signed with the Twins as a non-drafted pitcher from the University of Minnesota in 2006 after spending three seasons pitching for Golden Gophers.
An unheralded prospect by all accounts
De Vries has spent over 6 season in the minor leagues and has posted a career line of 4.01 ERA with a 7.0 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9 across 649.1 professional innings between starting and bullpen duties. He works in the low 90’s with his fastball and possesses a decent change-up to go along with a slider/cutter he uses as his breaking pitch. To date De Vries has appeared in two starts with mixed results. He was hit hard versus the Chicago White Sox in his Major League debut surrendering three long balls and six runs (three earned) while striking out four over five innings in a losing effort. His next start versus Oakland was a different story as he limited the A’s to only two hits over five scoreless innings. He did issue five free passes which is concerning but he registered a no decision and the Twins escaped with a 3-2 victory. De Vries is scheduled to make his next start at Kansas City during the first week of June and both he and the Twins hope to build off of his most recent solid start. Currently De Vries projects as a fringe back-of-the-rotation starter or low leverage middle reliever with limited upside who can make the occasional spot-start. Any additional expectations could result in a huge let down as the 27 year old has all but maxed out his potential.
Moving right along, 24 year old left-handed hitting outfielder Kole Calhoun was called up recently by the Los Angeles Angels to fill the void left by the injured Vernon Wells and Ryan Langerhans and temporarily departed Torii Hunter. The Angels struggles in 2012 have been widely covered and the outfield is very much an area of concern. Peter Bourjos has struggled with a .209 BA and rookie Mike Trout is continuing to get acclimated to the Majors though he at least has been solid to date. As for Calhoun, who was drafted in the 8th round of the 2010 draft, his ascension to the majors has been rapid. He appeared in 56 games for the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League in 2010 and showed excellent plate discipline and good power as he finished with a .292/.411/.505 and 7 HR over 202 AB. Promoted to the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League for 2011, Calhoun broke out -like so many hitters do – with an outstanding .324/.410/.547, 22 HR, 99 RBI and a surprising 20 SB in 512 AB. The Angels were aggressive with the polished product and moved him to AAA Salt Lake City of the PCL to start 2012 and Calhoun rose to the challenge slashing .296/.365/.491 over 43 games with 5 HR and 31 RBI. Known for his hard-nose style of play Calhoun is the perfect example of how dedication and high effort play can maximize otherwise average tools. Initially viewed as more of a 4th outfielder by scouts Calhoun has done nothing but exceed expectations since signing with the Angels and will look to continue this trend with the big club. Through 11 AB Calhoun has recorded a .273 BA with an extra-base hit and a stolen base for the Angels.