Calhoun looks to meet challenges in tough year

Top prospect has struggled for playing time in the Majors; Beltre looks to finish season strong

September 9th, 2018

OAKLAND -- The transition from prospect to Major League player is not always smooth. It wasn't for Joey Gallo, , and , and it is not going to be that way for .

The Rangers' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, went into Spring Training as the obvious favorite to be the Texas left fielder, but instead spent most of the season at Triple-A Round Rock. He is a September callup and did start on Sunday, but his playing time is limited. There is no telling what moves the Rangers will make in the offseason, but right now Calhoun is behind Gallo, DeShields and on the Rangers' outfield depth chart.

"I think it's pretty clear that the writing is on the wall," Calhoun said. "There are a lot of older players that play the same position I do. It's pretty much waiting your turn and going out there when [manager Jeff Banister] calls your name and being ready. I wouldn't say I'm discouraged, but I'm not used to being in a bench role. But it's something where I have to be ready when he calls me."

Calhoun's strength is his offense; he hit .294 with 32 doubles, nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 108 games at Round Rock. The home runs were down from the 31 he hit at Triple-A last year and the slugging percentage fell from .572 to .431.

"Honestly, I know I still have it," Calhoun said. "I have close to 40 doubles [including five with the Rangers], so I know my power is still there. ... Maybe a little better pitch selection."

The Rangers don't need to be concerned about finding Calhoun a spot in the lineup. Their focus is on his continued development, especially on defense and baserunning. They also want to see how he responds to the challenges he faced this season.

"I believe all players go through challenges," Banister said. "In the big picture, it's a good thing. This is not an easy game to play. This is a challenging game. It's how the player responds. The future will judge that."

The Rangers also want Calhoun to continue to dedicate himself to getting in top physical condition.

"You need to be in shape to play this game," Banister said. "I'm not saying Willie was not in shape. But you look across baseball, there are players who have had to make adjustments in their strength and their bodies. This is a grueling game. You need to make sure you take care of your bodies. All our players understand that."

Beltre to get chances

goes into just about every game with a chance to pass an all-time great in some category. He went into Sunday's game with 474 career home runs, one behind Willie Stargell and Stan Musial for 30th all-time. With 3,152 hits, he needed two more to match George Brett for 15th place all-time.

If Beltre retires at the end of the year, the final three weeks of the season will determine his final spot on the all-time lists. Banister acknowledged he has thought about that.

"We're going to give him as many opportunities as we can to play," Banister said. "I don't want to miss those moments and he doesn't either. He's got to feel good enough to play and right now he is in a pretty good spot."

Rangers beat

• DeShields was back in the leadoff spot on Sunday for the first time since July 11. That was his spot early in the season and the Rangers want to take another look at him up there in September.

"For him to be a dynamic player, that's a better spot for him," Banister said.

• The Class A Short Season Spokane Indians open their best-of-five Northwest League Championship Series against Eugene on Sunday night.