Scouting Willie Calhoun and the Yu Darvish Return

Yu Darvish was traded to Los Angeles ahead of the deadline. In return, Texas got three good pieces, including one very entertaining one who will be ready to contribute to the big club soon.

Dodgers get
RHP Yu Darvish

Rangers get
DH Willie Calhoun
RHP A.J. Alexy
INF Brendon Davis

Calhoun is the centerpiece here. A fourth rounder in 2015, Calhoun transferred to Yavapai JC after his freshman season at the University of Arizona, and had a Ruthian sophomore year there. In 63 games, he hit 31 home runs, drew 38 walks and struck out just 13 times for Yavapai. Those numbers were undoubtedly aided by the hitting environment in mountainous Prescott, Arizona, where Yavapai is located, and the fact that they played their home games at a local high-school field when it rained. But scouts bought in to what they saw from Calhoun and thought he had a chance hit and hit for power in pro ball.

He has, slashing .298/.357/.574 as a pro and ascending to Triple-A in just his second full season. He has plus raw power and gets to it in games thanks to a preternatural feel to hit, natural loft in the swing, and plus-plus bat speed. Despite some inherent violence in Calhoun’s very entertaining cut, he has been able to limit his strikeout rate to 11.7% at Double and Triple-A. He has a chance to be a plus hitter with plus game power and basically profile anywhere on the defensive spectrum.

That’s good, because Calhoun is without a position. He’s a thick 5-foot-6, a 30 runner without the lateral quickness required for second base, his most frequent position as a pro. He’s also spent time at left field and, in college, third base, but he lacks the range for either of those, too. For most scouts, Calhoun is a DH-only prospect but the consensus is that he’ll hit enough to be valuable there anyway. Texas has another DH-only type of player in Shin-Soo Choo, so while Calhoun might be ready for his first big league stint, it’s unclear how he might fit into Texas’ lineup immediately.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from Yavapai JC (AZ)
Age 22 Height 5’6 Weight 220 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 60/60 45/60 30/30 30/40 40/45

A.J. Alexy is a 19-year old righty drafted out of a Pennsylvania high school in the 11th round last year. He’s physically projectable and has already started to add velocity in this, his first full pro season. Last fall he was 88-92, this year he’s 90-92 and touching 95. He also has great feel for spinning a curveball which might be above average at maturity. His changeup is below average, but keep in mind we’re talking about a prep arm from the northeast and offspeed pitches are often nonexistent for that type of player early in their career. Alexy projects as a #4/5 starter.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Twin Valley HS (PA)
Age 19 Height 6’4 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Control
50/55 50/55 40/50 40/50

Infielder Brendon Davis is tall, about 6-foot-5, and his long levers create holes in his swing that have led to excessive swing and miss. He’s very athletic and, while unlikely to stay at shortstop because of his size, could be a plus defender at third. He’s already seeing more time there. As he continues to fill out (12% BB%, twice that of 2016), Davis could grow into above average raw power and if the newfound patience he has shown this year holds firm, the combination of power, on base ability and effective defense at third could render his strikeout issues moot and yield everyday value. It’s more likely he becomes a utility player.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Lakewood HS (CA)
Age 20 Height 6’5 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 45/55 20/50 50/40 40/55 55/60

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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6 years ago

Is it offensive to say Calhoun has a low ceiling?

6 years ago
Reply to  YKnotDisco

High floor, low ceiling?

tramps like us
6 years ago
Reply to  YKnotDisco

not if you’re Randy Newman