Two days before the 2006 major league draft, Ryan Kalish knew exactly what he was going to do. And he knew exactly how much money it would take to sign him.
He wasn't really flirting with taking his game to the University of Virginia. He was flirting with $600,000, the bonus Kalish was asking for, which is in line with a second-round draft choice.
Only Kalish wasn't taken until the ninth round by the Red Sox, and it took until late August for the bonus to be approved by Major League Baseball, since the money exceeded his draft slot.
But to Lowell Spinners manager Gary DiSarcina, Kalish has the ability to live up to the bonus, comparing the 19-year-old with a former teammate of his with the Angels.
"He has Darin Erstad's personality," DiSarcina said. "When I first saw Darin, he was so much more polished. Just when I see Ryan's face sometimes, and I see the intensity, the only one I can match to it is Darin."
It's a high compliment from the first-year manager, and the praise should increase once Kalish accrues more games and more at-bats.
But Kalish already has the speed to put pressure on defenses, the type of game-changing speed Red Sox fans witnessed with Jacoby Ellsbury.
"Speed and guts," DiSarcina said. "His game awareness is not there yet. He's 19. He'll dive for balls in the outfield in situations where giving up a run and a hit is more beneficial to the team. He's got to get games under his belt.
"I love him. He's my favorite player."
Though DiSarcina started the season by giving his entire team the green light on the base paths, Kalish remains the only player to keep that privilege, leading the New York-Penn League with 14 steals.
Kalish has had some bumps in the road, though, getting picked off twice Wednesday and earning a one-game benching for failing to run out a popup that was dropped.
The center fielder went to DiSarcina's office immediately after the game to apologize.
"At first, nobody really knew I was a base stealer, so it was very easy to just get a big lead and go," Kalish said. "Now that the numbers are up there, everybody's starting to see that. I just think I have to be more picky with when I leave. Usually I get on first base or I get on second and I automatically feel I have to go, which is not true at all.
"So I think I need to just calm down a little bit and pick my spots better."
Kalish is showing growth at the plate as well, hitting two home runs during last night's 5-4 home loss to Batavia -- a three-run shot in the second inning and a solo homer in the fifth -- to give him three on the season. Kalish finished 3 for 4 and is hitting a team-best .329.
Hagadone stands to pitch two to three innings in the start since he pitched for the University of Washington this spring. It's been about a month since his last game and Hagadone said he's more than ready.
"I've been pretty anxious," Hagadone said. "They're pretty careful, especially when it's your first season."
One thing Hagadone has brought to the East Coast is a rigorous stretching program. He spends at least a half-hour to 40 minutes each day stretching -- trying, he says, to match the flexibility exhibited by former Washington teammate and current San Francisco Giant Tim Lincecum.