Get to Know Willie Calhoun, the Rangers' Big Prize in the Yu Darvish Trade

Willie Calhoun
Willie Calhoun YavapaiCollege via Youtube
On Monday, seemingly seconds before the trade deadline, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels did what he'd been trying to do for the better part of a week: He got rid of Yu Darvish.

With his team seemingly out of contention and needing a farm system rebuild, Daniels sent his team's ace, Darvish, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had an opening for a starter after the injury of their own ace, Highland Park's Clayton Kershaw. In Darvish, they got their man, but they gave up three prospects in exchange.

Two of those young players, pitcher A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis, are the type of high-ceiling, low-floor lottery tickets Daniels prefers to fill out deals. Alexy is a tall, lanky pitcher, just a year out of high school. If he adds velocity to his fastball as he fills out his frame, he could turn into a strikeout machine. Davis is a 6-foot-4, freakishly athletic infielder, and if his baseball tools end up matching his athleticism, he could be an All-Star. If they don't, he might not make it past Double A.

The prize of the package the Rangers received for Darvish is second baseman Willie Calhoun. Calhoun is an all-bat, no-glove player who likely won't stick at the keystone. With work, he might be an adequate defender in left field, but it definitely doesn't hurt that he's been traded to the American League, where he could have the opportunity to be the designated hitter. In just his second full professional season, the 22-year-old Calhoun is hitting .298 with 23 home runs in Triple A. Despite his small stature — Calhoun is 5-foot-8 and less than 200 pounds — he is not a base-stealer. He stole just three bases in five attempts on the year.

If Calhoun becomes a big-league regular, it will be because he continues to hit and hit for power, no matter the level of pitching he faces.
If the Rangers find a spot for Calhoun on the big-league roster this year or the next, he should quickly become a fan favorite. Calhoun showed off his personality earlier this year when he hit a home run while doing a perfect impression of Babe Ruth's iconic left-handed swing. Calhoun also already has a healthy affinity for Texas barbecue. According to the Rangers, Calhoun will report to Triple A Round Rock later this week. He could get his first action with the big club when rosters expand in September.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young