The Braves have invested a bunch of short-term dollars into bolstering their bullpen unit in what projects to be among the league’s best. But of course, they are always looking towards the future down on the farm. The Aggie everyone seems to be talking about in this draft class is shortstop Braden Shewmake, but there is another who appears to have big-time MLB potential. Last season, they invested their 4th round pick in Texas A&M closer Kasey Kalich, and the early returns look promising. The right-hander looks like he could be a serious late-inning threat for years to come.
Kalich began his college career playing JuCo ball for Blinn College, the same JuCo Cam Newton played football at. After a year, he transferred to the Aggies, where he immediately became their closer. He was a handful for opposing hitters, posting a 13.5 K/9 rate in the SEC. The Braves were impressed enough with his two-pitch mix, his fastball that can touch the high 90’s at times, and slider, which is his out pitch, to spend high equity on a relief arm.
It is a tiny sample size, but since joining the organization, Kalich has already established himself in A ball, only needing a single appearance in the GCL League before being deemed ready. In 14 appearances in the minors this season, Kalich gave up just three earned runs and struck out 24 batters.
Due to being a college arm, and the nature of the movement of relievers in the system, Kalich could be in the big leagues before we know it. Admittedly, A.J. Minter, who is also a former Texas A&M closer, was more dominant in college, but he found himself in the big leagues just two years after being drafted, and Kalich could have a similar path to the bigs assuming he performs and develops. His biggest thing to work on, like many young relievers, will be harnessing his control, and adding additional pitches to his repertoire.
Kalich will be an interesting name to monitor during 2020, as he has essentially already established himself as the team’s top relief prospect, and could have a chance to reach as high as AAA Gwinnett this season if things go well. He is a prospect that the average Braves fan should put on their radar today.