Willie Calhoun has often been a highly hyped prospect, though when he’s gotten his chance in the Majors he’s generally underwhelmed. Over the past two seasons he’s racked up 145 PA for the Rangers, hitting a meager .233 (31-133) with 3 HR, 15 RBI, 11 R and 0 SB.
It’s easy to be down on him, given those numbers coupled with a significant drop in power at Triple-A last season (9 HR over 470 PA). Considering that’s supposed to be his carrying tool, there appears to be little reason for hope.
There was still some hope entering Spring Training, with the Rangers set to undergo a fairly extensive rebuild. That said they aren’t short on outfielders, with Joey Gallo, Delino Deshields and Nomar Mazara set to open the year starting. There was room for Calhoun to make the team as the fourth outfielder, but he was beaten out by Hunter Pence and instead was sent to Triple-A.
And this is where things start to get even more concerning. First you have to note the spring performance, which justifies his demotion:
.217 (10-46), 0 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R, 0 SB
While he has at least been making contact (6 K), his average and just 2 doubles help to tell us that he needs more work. These consistent struggles loom large, but new questions about his makeup further clouds the issue (this comes courtesy of MLB.com):
The Rangers understand Willie Calhoun is disappointed about being optioned, but the clock is now ticking on when he will officially report to Triple-A Nashville. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player has 72 hours to report even if it is essentially a walk down the hall at the Rangers’ complex. Texas gave Calhoun the day off Thursday, and he did not report Friday.
It’s understandable that he’s frustrated with the decision, but it’s hard to argue against it. The lack of production has been going on for far too long, and it’s easy to say that he’ll be better served playing regularly at Triple-A to try and work out the issues (as opposed to sporadic playing time as a bench player in the Majors).
His demotion should not be a big story, but at this point it is. He does make consistent contact, but unless he can overcome this and rediscover his power (something that was always a question, listed at 5’8”) he is never going to emerge as a factor. Maybe this ultimately turns into a positive but at this point it’s easy to ignore him.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists: