NYPL notes: Kaline carries on traditionRookie infielder brings Hall of Fame connection to Connecticut
Colin Kaline scored twice on "Al Kaline Night" at Dodd Stadium on Aug. 8. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)
By Brian Moynahan / Special to MLB.com
08/12/2011 10:00 AM ET
Most players picked in the 26th round of the Draft don't receive much attention. They sign a contract and spend a few years riding buses around the Minor Leagues before eventually fading away into the post-baseball career.
Most 26th-round Draft picks don't bear the surname Kaline.
Connecticut second baseman Colin Kaline is the grandson of Al Kaline, the Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer who has spent nearly six decades with the organization as a player, broadcaster and executive. When the time came to notify Colin of his selection in June, it was a familiar voice on the other end of the line.
"As soon as our pick was coming up, I got him on the phone and said, 'You're about to be on board,'" Al Kaline told The Oakland Press on June 9. "Knowing him, he was just, 'Oh, that's great.' He's kind of reserved, that kid. I think I was more excited than he was."
His grandson might not have shown much excitement at the time, but he understands how special it was to share such an important moment with his grandfather.
"It was very special," Colin Kaline said. "There's the immediate excitement of being drafted and knowing that you're going to be a professional ballplayer, and then to hear it from somebody that means so much to me made it even more of a special moment."
With the good comes the bad. Colin also deals constantly with the questions and expectations that accompany his famous name, but he's long past the point of letting the attention bother him.
"I've made it a point in my mind to know that I am my own player and to respect what he did for this organization, because it's an unbelievable thing," said Kaline. "But I also know I have a long way to go, being a 26th-rounder, and just to keep working hard and doing my thing.
"There's going to be critics all the time," he added, referencing the advice his father has given him on dealing with such situations. "There's going to be positive things said and negative things said, so don't get too high or too low when anyone says anything."
The younger Kaline was previously chosen by Detroit in the 25th round of the 2007 Draft but opted to attend college instead. The organization selected him again this year after a four-year career at Florida Southern College in which he hit .278 with two home runs, 65 RBIs and 121 runs scored in 176 games. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds, he's hitting .227 with eight runs scored, six RBIs and 15 walks in 31 games for Connecticut.
With his grandfather in attendance Monday for "Al Kaline Night" at Dodd Stadium, Colin drew two walks and scored twice in Connecticut's 10-0 win over the Lowell Spinners, an understated yet valuable performance that highlights one of his key strengths: he's a player who knows his limitations, readily acknowledges that he is not a "five-tool" player and understands that he must find other ways to help the team.
"I like to think I have a good sense, or a good feel, of what's going on with the flow of the game. Being able to read situations and being able to technically execute little things, maybe get a guy over, something like that," he said. "Because I have to be able to do that, especially for my size."
...Brian Moynahan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.