Podcast: How far can Calhoun's bat carry him?

February 16th, 2018

The following is an excerpt from this week's Pipeline Podcast, in which Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis are joined by Jordan Shusterman and Jake Mintz of Cespedes Family BBQ. To listen to the show in its entirety, visit the MLB Pipeline Podcast page.
Shusterman: Before we get to a couple of the pitchers that we want to discuss, we got to talk about because this is one of the most unique prospects we've seen in some time. He's like, I think he's listed at 5-foot-8, but he might be 5-foot-6, and before you start thinking he's any sort of type, this is a guy who's pretty much all bat. He's gonna be a DH. But with the Rangers, it sounds like they're going to try and just pencil him into left, and he didn't look awesome last year in left defensively, but the dude's hit for his whole life. Is this just a situation where they're going to hold up the defense until a DH spot opens up and then Willie Calhoun is just going to hit, and he's going to play a probably ugly left field?
Mintz: Jordan spends most of his time at work just watching Willie Calhoun videos, so this is dear to his heart.
Shusterman: Yeah, so Jonathan, what do you think? Do you think Calhoun is just going to hit from Day 1 or is he going have any issues?
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Mayo: Yes, he is going to hit, and he is going to hit some more. And he's either gonna hit enough where you don't notice that he's barely passable in left field or he hits enough where they figure out they hide him out there a couple times a week, let him DH a couple times a week. He's going to have -- I remember when he came to the Fall League and you know I had seen the numbers. I was very curious. You see him for the first time and you're like, 'OK, you don't see a lot of guys who look like that.' 
And then you stop what you're doing because you hear what it sounds like coming off the barrel of his bat in BP. And then at every single at-bat, I felt that even the outs he made in the Fall League, they were all hard. That was kind of, I know that's a small sample size, and I try not to look at the numbers too much, but just the way it sounded and the way it looked when he was taking BP after the end of a really long, full season, made me a believer in the bat. And guys who hit will find their way to the big leagues. Especially hit like that. We're not talking just that he can hit a little bit. He can really hit, he can really hit for average and power. And I think it's all going to play at the big league level right away.

Callis: The guy had more extra-base hits than strikeouts last year in Triple-A, which you don't see too often. Left field is definitely a better option than second base. It's not a great option, but again, like Jonathan said, I think this guy just hits so much, it's going to more than make up for the defensive shortcomings.
Shusterman: And if he does end up, right now the Rangers have 's contract and whatever he has left at DH. But I would love for Calhoun to become a full-time DH because we've never seen a DH look like him. So, yeah, I obviously love Willie Calhoun, as Jake mentioned.