Kasey Kalich Is Poised To Move Quickly
The Braves swayed from tradition in the draft, taking advantage of a deep pool of college position players rather than dipping into the pool of high school arms.
Fourth-round righthander Kasey Kalich, a reliever from Texas A&M, was the first pitcher they selected. Atlanta chose Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers and Texas A&M shortstop Braden Shewmake with its two first-round picks.
Kalich spent a season at Blinn (Texas) JC before joining the Aggies. Texas A&M moved him to the bullpen, where he swiftly emerged in the Southeastern Conference by striking out 51 in 34 innings.
"The biggest difference was I was able to be more competitive with every pitch I have,” Kalich said. "I had better mechanics to help me do that . . . It made every pitch have a little better stuff to it.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Kalich tops out at 97 mph and throws a hard slider for his out pitch.
How quickly Kalich develops depends on his theoretical third and fourth pitches, which he hopes to develop by the time he reaches the big leagues.
Kalich had success in college by relying on his fastball and slider, but he assures that a developing changeup will be part of his repertoire moving forward. He also intends to work on a curveball, though that’s even farther behind his changeup.
"(My slider) is definitely my go-to pitch to punch somebody out or get them chasing to get back into a count,” Kalich said. "I’m getting back to getting my curveball back into the mix so I can have four (pitches).”
The Braves promote prospects aggressively, giving Kalich the opportunity to aptly work his way up the ladder from low Class A Rome, where he begins his professional career.
Given that the Braves occupied first place in the National League East in late June, they were looking for difference-makers who aren’t far away. If Kalich’s arsenal grows as he hopes, and he builds off a breakout sophomore season at College Station, he might be the first player from Atlanta's 2019 draft class to reach the majors.
— The Braves believe first-round catcher Shea Langeliers, whom they drafted ninth overall out of Baylor, could reach the big leagues in a hurry.
"We think he is a catcher who’s going to get to some power,” scouting director Dana Brown said. "The barrier of entry for catchers with bats is not that high. This guy can hit and he has power . . . He has a plus-plus arm, plus-plus defense, a high I.Q., big-time makeup, high energy-type player. Just a good package for the franchise. We think with this pick we can potentially solve the catching position.”
"He’s a great shortstop, he’s got a great bat,” Kalich said. "He's a great teammate to have behind you. Being able to know somebody in the organization who you’re familiar with, it just makes the transition that much easier.”