After being at the back end of a backlog of outfielders for the past two seasons, Kole Calhoun has emerged as the apparent Opening Day Right Fielder for the Angels.
What a long, strange trip its been. In 2012, the Angels skipped him over AA and he responded with an OPS of .877 at Salt Lake - and the 14 HR he hit show that number to not be so padded with altitude. He got his callup and had 19 innings in LF and 33 Innings in RF, but he was blocked. Really blocked. He was behind Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo.
In 2013, Wells and Hunter were gone but the team added Josh Hamilton and gave preferential playing time to J.B. Shuck. Lose two roadblocks, gain two roadblocks. Once the Angels had throw in the towel, though, they gave the lion's share of playing time to Calhoun and he responded well with an .808 OPS and a 128 OPS+ in 222 Plate Appearances.
On the Angels' official MLB site the depth chart shows Calhoun as the clear choice to be the team's opening day Right Fielder. For too many seasons the Angels have played contender late only to wither and denied opportunities for their youngsters to show what they could do on a major league field. Calhoun was afforded this rare chance and shined. He will not be a replacement for Trumbo's power, nor the defense of Bourjos, but he could combine to produce better all around numbers - hitting for a higher average and putting the ball in play a lot more than Trumbo and getting on base a lot more than Bourjos while not embarrassing himself in the field.
It seems the Angels have handed the keys to the kingdom to one of their farm system's very own. Now it may be time to sign someone to supplant Shuck as the current depth chart #1 choice for designated hitter.