With the Texas Rangers effectively done for the year as far as playoff contention is concerned, why have they still not called up star prospect, Willie Calhoun?
It came as a surprise to some when Willie Calhoun started out the 2018 season in Triple-A Round Rock rather than in Arlington with the big league club. He’s considered the best hitter the Rangers have in their minor league system and perhaps was the most MLB ready player as well. Thought to be the number 2 prospect in Texas’ system, behind only Leody Taveras, the 23-year old expressed his displeasure at being sent to the minors to start the season.
The decision was made because of Calhoun’s defensive struggles but he also struggled at the plate at the beginning of the year hitting just .229 in April. He was able to turn it around in May, a month when many thought he’d be promoted. He posted a .303 average in May with an impressive .327 on-base percentage. Despite this and much to everyone’s surprise, May came and went without Calhoun getting the call up. In fact, May finished with Willie getting benched in Triple-A due to a lack of hustle. All he’s done in June so far is build on his strong May putting up outrageous numbers. So far this month, in just 12 games, Calhoun is hitting .333 with 6 doubles and 8 RBIs. This is where it begs the question, why is he still not with the big league club?
The answer while seemingly simple is still frustrating. In short, there isn’t anywhere for him to play right now. With Ronald Guzman securing first base, a chain reaction has started that means there are no everyday outfield spots available for the talented youngster. His main position as of now is left field where Joey Gallo is getting regular starts. Beyond left field, he probably only would be a DH but Shin-Soo Choo is having a very good year meaning he’s not going anywhere. So where would Calhoun get playing time. He’s not defensively solid enough to take over another position. But you’re not going to take out arguably your most consistent hitter just to force Calhoun in the lineup.
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In a way though, the Rangers should be applauded for their efforts to get Calhoun regular playing time by leaving him in Triple-A. This likely is a lesson learned from the Jurickson Profar debacle. The Rangers, so eager to get the number one prospect in baseball to the majors, brought Profar up without a place for him to play and stunted his development drastically. Obviously, this is the situation Texas is looking to avoid. Disappointingly though, it means Rangers fans won’t get to see Calhoun in Arlington anytime soon. Likely, Willie will be stuck in the minors until the Rangers start making trades and even then, there isn’t a guaranteed spot. Choo is still unlikely to be traded due in large part to his age and massive contract. Gallo and Guzman also aren’t going anywhere which means the Rangers will have some rearranging to do.
Texas will definitely have to be creative in trying to get Calhoun to the big leagues. However, this is a move that needs to happen before the beginning of the year. At the plate, he’s ready and fans are demanding to see what many consider the future of the organization.