Rangers Prospect Radar: Willie Calhoun
By Kenneth Nash
Willie Calhoun is the name in the minor league system that Rangers fans are clamoring to see. Get up to date on Texas’ young prospects with the Prospect Radar.
This is the start of a new series here at Nolan Writin’ called Rangers Prospect Radar. Throughout this series we’ll take a look at the Rangers top prospects according to MLB.com Prospect Watch. Working our way from the top to the bottom of the list with some slight changes. MLB.com has Leody Taveras listed as the Rangers top prospect but we’re starting with perhaps the most major league ready, Willie Calhoun.
Willie Calhoun was acquired by Texas at the trade deadline of the 2017 from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Rangers’ ace, Yu Darvish. Calhoun, 23, was part of a 3-player package headed to Arlington that included A.J. Alexy and Brendon Davis.
Calhoun, an outfielder, was drafted by the Dodgers in the 4th round of the 2015 draft out of Yavapai College. In addition to being a top prospect for the Rangers, Calhoun is also listed as the number 53 prospect in baseball according to MLB’s top 100 prospects. At 5’8″ and 187 lb., the Vallejo, CA native is known for his impressive power compared to his size.
Calhoun has a reputation of having an above average bat with considerable power. His scouting report grades contact and power both at 60 on the traditional 20/80 scale. For some reference to current big league Rangers, Joey Gallo was scouted at 45 contact and 80 power. Nomar Mazara was listed at 55 contact and 65 power. So Calhoun is scouted at having better contact but less power than these two. Another left-handed hitter, Calhoun fits the mold of young Rangers sluggers that have broken into the Major League lineup.
Defensively is where Calhoun has some marked struggles. His scouting report has him graded with a 45 arm and 40 fielding on the scale. In addition, below average speed raises concern over his ability to play the outfield at a high level.
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Minor League Service
Through 4 seasons of Minor League ball, Calhoun has maintained an impressive .284 batting average with a .347 on-base percentage. His power has been displayed by his 69 homeruns and .515 slugging percentage. His walks per strikeout rate is favorable as well at .715 in his minor league service time.
On the defensive side of the game, Calhoun has amassed .958 fielding percentage. Early in his career, Calhoun got the majority of his time at second base making the transition to left field when the Rangers acquired him last year.
Calhoun does have a small amount of time spent in the big league making his MLB debut with the Rangers in September of 2017. In 13 games, he hit .265 with a .324 on-base percentage. A small sample size, but Calhoun showed promise in his time with Texas.
Calhoun is expected to make his arrival to the big league club at some point in 2018. Many predicted Calhoun making the roster out of Spring Training but Texas opted to send him back to AAA Round Rock in hopes of sharpening up his defense before making the full time jump. In addition to working on his defense, optioning Calhoun to the minors for at least a month allows Texas to maintain another year of team control over the young outfielder.
When Calhoun does make the big league team, we can expect him to make some starts in left field. Currently Ryan Rua is getting the majority of starts for Texas in left field but many feel that Rua is not the long term answer for the Rangers. Calhoun could very well make his break early on this season and for a highly rated prospect, hopes are that he can make an immediate and long-lasting impact.
What do you hope to see from Willie Calhoun? Comment below.