Clemson teammates reunited with Rangers

June 30th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry's Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

KANSAS CITY --Eli White and Steven Duggar have crossed paths before. Multiple times throughout their baseball careers, actually.

The two were teammates at Clemson University in 2014-15, but they knew of each other well before then. The outfielders are from two small towns in South Carolina about 30 miles apart and played travel ball against each other for years before teaming up at Clemson.

They never played against each other in high school. White notes that Duggar’s James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., was much, much bigger than his own Wren High School in Piedmont.

“He was kind of a really big deal, a big prospect coming out of high school,” White said of Duggar. “So I think everyone in the area knew who he was, but we played against each other a lot.”

But now, after a trade with the Giants that sent Willie Calhoun back to his hometown of the Bay Area, the two are teammates once again, more than five years after they first teamed up at Clemson.

“We had a good group while I was at Clemson and he was one of the guys that I was pretty close with,” White said. “A handful of us were really close, so Steven and I keep in touch throughout the season. We try to get together in the offseason when we can, the group of friends of us. He's a great guy. He’s going to help this team win ballgames.”

White’s wife, Molly, actually knew before he did, having spoken to Duggar’s wife immediately after the trade went through.

There is one key difference from White and Duggar’s time together at Clemson to now. White was the starting shortstop back then, and he didn't become an outfielder until he was traded to the Rangers as a prospect back in 2019. Duggar has always been an elite outfielder. Soon enough, they’ll get the chance to play next to each other again.

Duggar actually figures to replace White in a glove-first outfielder role with him on the 60-IL after wrist surgery on June 14. In 107 games last year, Duggar hit .257 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs while tallying a 0.6 dWAR in the field. He was batting .194 with four RBIs in 12 games this year before his injury.

White said it was a compliment to be compared to Duggar after so many years of playing both with and against him.

“It just means a lot to hear that, because I always looked up to him playing because he was always a year older than me,” White said. “He was a player that I was trying to be like, so that's really cool to hear and to know that we're at the same level now. It's a cool thing, and I'm just excited to have him here and see him play.”

“I think I've always taken a lot of pride in my defense and the way that I play,” Duggar added of their shared playing style. “I think I've also seen some jumps in other areas of my game, especially last year, whether it be on the bases or in the box. I think I bring an all-around game and I’m really just looking to make an impact. Just to help the team win.”