SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have optioned outfielder Willie Calhoun, their No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to Triple-A Round Rock. The move opens up left field for a possible platoon of Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson.Calhoun, a leading candidate to play left field coming into camp, was one
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have optioned outfielder Willie Calhoun, their No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to Triple-A Round Rock. The move opens up left field for a possible platoon of Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson.
Calhoun, a leading candidate to play left field coming into camp, was one of 14 players sent to the Minors on Tuesday. He is a converted second baseman who was switched to left field last season. Calhoun is still learning to play the position and his inexperience on defense is the biggest reason why he is being sent down.
"He definitely came into camp as a guy we were looking at," manager Jeff Banister said. "Our feeling is Willie Calhoun, we've seen what he can do in a batter's box. He has a unique skill set. We challenged him to work on the defensive side of the game. We feel he has growth to do on the defensive side and the offensive side. He's going to be a good player but he's got some work to do on the defensive side."
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The pitchers sent down were Connor Sadzeck, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Reed Garrett, David Hurlbut, Adrian Sampson, Paolo Espino and Tayler Scott. Also sent down were first baseman Ronald Guzman, infielders Christian Lopes and Hanser Alberto, outfielder Scott Heineman and catchers Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
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Robinson, a left-handed hitter, and Rua, a right-handed hitter, have both looked good defensively in camp.
"As it sits right now, it is probably a priority look of those two guys out there in platoon situations," Banister said.
Banister said the Rangers are committed to leaving Nomar Mazara in right field and eliminate using him in both corner positions. The Rangers are hoping that locking Mazara into one position will help him offensively.
Shin-Soo Choo will likely get most of his time at designated hitter. When he plays in the outfield, it will be in right field. The Rangers don't seem him playing left. Banister said he doesn't expect to use Mazara and Choo in the same outfield unless out of necessity.
"Choo will get time in right field and DH," Banister said. "Mazara will get most of the innings in right field. I don't see Choo playing left field."
The Rangers still have Destin Hood and Carlos Tocci in camp. Both have shown enough to continue to get consideration.
Hood has 10 years of professional experience, including 13 games with the Marlins in 2016. He is a superb athlete who turned down a football scholarship at the University of Alabama as a wide receiver to pursue baseball. He is 5-for-16 with a home run in Cactus League games and has shown his ability to cover ground in the outfield.
"He has opened some eyes," Banister said. "It has been impressive what he has been able to do. He is an intriguing guy."
Tocci is a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies who is still developing as an offensive player. He doesn't have power and the Rangers are trying to get him to use his speed more. The Rangers acquired him based on his defense and they haven't been disappointed.
"The kid plays exceptional in center field," Banister said. "He glides everywhere. He seems solid on his feet."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.