Brian Kalmer – Pic via Gonzaga Athletics

Brian Kalmer has one of the strangest stories of any of this year’s Cubs draft picks. Yeah. The third baseman played for three different schools, who were all top programs but in a strange order. In the last year, he’s began to put things together, and the Cubs are hoping to tweak a couple other things for it to all come together.

So far, it’s working.

It’s working really well too. In August, Kalmer was the Cubs Hitter of the Month at NSB as he hit 7 HRs and drove in 29 while hitting .349/.414/.651/1.065 with a wRC+ of 189.

Basic Information

Age – 22
Bats – Right
Throws – Right
Height – 6-foot
Weight – 215
From – Chandler, Arizona
Drafted in the 18 round of the 2023 MLB draft

Kalmer’s funky career path began at Arizona State University. In 2020 and 2021, Kalmer played for the Sun Devils, but not very much. Over those two seasons, he got a total of 30 ABs. A little hard to get better if you’re not in the lineup. So he decided to leave and use his Covid year to go to a junior college at Wabash Valley College.

It was at Wabash that saw Kalmer’s career takeoff. He was the national junior college player of the year in 2022. He hit .420 with 21 home runs. But that’s not the best part. He drove it 109 runs in 68 games. That’s just absurd! For most players, that would be glorious enough, and they would take their free ride at a four-year school of their choosing.

But Kalmer did not. Instead, he went and played summer ball. He did not go to the Cape Cod Baseball League nor did he go to the Northwoods league which has a lot of teams close to Wabash.

Instead, he did the logical thing and went to the MLB Draft League for Mahoning Valley. The good part of that experience was that he hit .286 with a .391 on base percentage in 28 games. But he only hit one home run and had just four RBI, which is not a lot, considering the spring he put together. Still, Kalmer took his D1 scholarship to Gonzaga last fall.

Hs 2023 campaign was pretty successful as he hit .358 and slugged 15 home runs and drove in 51 runners as he earned first team All-WCC.

According to Aiden Crisley of The Gonzaga Bulletin, Gonzaga‘s coach said that Kalmer’s greatest strength is his ability to do the job:

”He came in with a strong work ethic, I don’t think anybody in the country works harder than he does. He’s done a great job staying in his approach and swinging the bat like he knows how to. But his tireless work ethic is definitely something that has helped him as well as help the young guys that look up to him on the team.”

Coach Garcia raved about Kalmer’s work ethic, but he was also very quick to praise his off-the-field leadership and how it has played a role in the development of the younger players. 

“He’s a great teammate, a great guy to have in a clubhouse,” said Garcia. “He’s come in from junior college, so he’s got experience playing high-level baseball and that has obviously translated.”

As far as his future, Joe Doyle of Future Star Series thinks Kalmer will move from third base to first base: “A third baseman now, Kalmer will likely move across the infield to first base in pro ball, which will only make his profile more difficult with the added pressure on his bat.”

But for this season, Kalmer has exceeded expectations far beyond what any of thought. His August at Myrtle Beach was amazing and he’s looking like he will start 2024 at South Bend. From there, it is up to his bat as to how fast he moves. As of now, I have no preconceptions or expectations of how will perform at High-A, but based on his track record, I am excited to see him do it. I will be there opening day if it is not too cold in the Quad Cities.

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