Salt Lake Bees: Kole Calhoun is a Triple-A All-Star and a rising talent in the Los Angeles Angels organization
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Bees outfielder Kole Calhoun is excited to shuffle off to Buffalo for Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game (MLB Network, 5 p.m.). It's the next scheduled move for the 24-year-old slugger, who has been on an accelerated path since getting drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2010.
After highly successful summers with the Orem Owlz and Inland Empire 66ers, the former Arizona State star bypassed Double-A ball and was assigned to Salt Lake this season. On May 22, Calhoun made his debut with the Angels. A day later, he recorded his first big-league hit — a double against the Oakland Athletics.
"If you had told me what was going to happen two years ago I wouldn't have believed a word you said," Calhoun noted. "So it's been a blessing, for sure."
The opportunity to go out and do his thing, he said, has been accompanied by good coaching and instruction.
Even so, Calhoun acknowledged it's all been a bit crazy. After all, he was expecting to be at Double-A Arkansas at this juncture.
Such gradual advancement, however, wasn't in the numbers. In his one and only season in the California League, Calhoun drove in 99 runs while batting .324 with 22 homers. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound slugger from Buckeye, Ariz., followed it up with a stellar spring — a .354 batting average and eight extra-base hits over 23 games.
The success has continued in Salt Lake. Through the Fourth of July, Calhoun was hitting .310 and leading the Bees with 53 runs batted in and 10 homers.
Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson also considers Calhoun one of the Pacific Coast League's top defensive players.
"The thing about Kole is he's a baseball player. He's going to go out there and he's a grinder," Johnson said while reeling off a list of accolades. "He still has that thirst for knowledge even as well as he's been doing."
It all adds up, he continued, to Calhoun being "well deserving" of all the success that is coming his way. Although Calhoun has already enjoyed a stint with the Angels, Johnson considers the Triple-A all-star recognition a big deal as well.
So does Calhoun.
"It's pretty exciting. I'm really looking forward to it," he said while expressing a desire to take in the whole experience in Buffalo. "I don't think many opportunities like this come along very often so, like I've said, I'm pumped. I can't wait to get up there."
Calhoun plans to watch the Home Run Derby and take part in other activities associated with the mid-season gathering.
It'll enhance an already-memorable summer for Calhoun, who became the 100th player in Arizona State history to play Major League Baseball.
That milestone, he admitted, is pretty cool.
Just getting there, though, was even more special.
Calhoun's call came about 15 minutes after the Bees arrived in Omaha following a bus trip from Des Moines.
Johnson delivered the news, something he considers an "absolutely awesome" part of his job as manager.
It's especially meaningful, however, for the player.
In 2000, Johnson remembers getting his first promotion to the big leagues. While playing for Triple-A Edmonton (the Angels' top affiliate at the time), he was summoned to California early in the season.
Johnson has fond memories of getting to the stadium in Anaheim for some early work and jogging around the field before others arrived. That's when the stress and worry of it all diminished. He felt inspired to stop, look around and soak in his first time as a major leaguer.
"I still remember the feeling," Johnson said. "I can still smell the grass and all that from that day."
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