The Rangers are planning to bring as many Minor League prospects as possible to Surprise, Ariz., at the beginning of October for an expanded instructional league.
Outfielder Willie Calhoun is expected to join them at some point.
The instructional league will allow Minor Leaguers to make up for lost time after having their season cancelled by the COVID-19 crisis. Calhoun also has time to make up.
Calhoun has had to deal with a fractured jaw, strained right oblique and strained left hamstring this season. As a result, going into Friday, Calhoun had played in just 20 games and was hitting .152 with a .197 slugging percentage.
“He is probably going to go home for a little bit, but he definitely wants to get more at-bats,” manager Chris Woodward said. “So he is probably going to go to instructional league and get as many at-bats as he possibly can. He wants to play.”
The hamstring strain has limited Calhoun to serving as designated hitter. He was supposed to be the Rangers' left fielder this season before all the injuries took a toll. Now it is clear that Eli White and Nick Solak have established themselves as the Rangers' best defensive options in left field, a significant consideration given the need for premium defensive outfielders at Globe Life Field.
“Willie has to keep working,” Woodward said. “He has to keep working to prove that he is an adequate defensive player. I don’t know what our roster is going to be like next year. Obviously he is one of our best hitters. As far as playing the outfield, he has to earn it. He has to earn a spot.”
The Rangers could have an opening at designated hitter if Calhoun can regain his offensive prowess. He hit .269/.323/.524 with 21 home runs in 83 games in 2019. But Calhoun is 25 and the question is if he is too young to be labeled as only a DH at this point of his career.
“I would hope it’s too early,” Woodward said. “I would hope he would take offense to that and work his butt off to prove he is an adequate, average to above average outfielder. The ball is in his court on that. He has had a rough year all the way around, but I expect him to get after it this offseason like he has the last couple and come in ready to go as an outfield or DH."
Minor trade completed
The Rangers officially announced they are acquiring outfielder Marcus Smith and infielder Dustin Harris from the Athletics to complete the Aug. 31 trade for pitcher Mike Minor.
Smith, 20, ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the Athletics system by MLB Pipeline, was a third-round pick last season out of Kansas City Pembroke High and spent last season in the Arizona Rookie League. In 29 games, he hit .361/.466/.443 as a left-handed-hitting center fielder.
Harris, 21, was an 11th-round pick out of St. Petersburg College who split time between Arizona and Class A Vermont in the New York-Penn League, hitting .325/.403/.407. He is a corner infielder who can also play outfield.
Choo doubtful for rest of season
Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is eligible to come off the injured list, but the Rangers aren’t ready for that. Choo has been sidelined with a sprained right wrist and the Rangers aren’t sure if he’ll get back before the end of the season.
“He is still pretty sore,” Woodward said. “He was hoping he would be back by now. He still has a hard time picking up a bat. Pick up a fungo [bat] and that kind of hurts him a little bit.
“We are hoping to try to get him back before the end of the year. Not quite sure it will happen. Knowing him, he wants to make sure he plays one more game or a couple more games. I would like that as well.”
• Third baseman Josh Jung is going to stop working out at the Rangers' alternate camp. The Rangers want him to take some time off before getting back after it in Instructional League.
• Right-hander Jordan Lyles pitched seven innings as a starter on Thursday after throwing seven innings in relief in his previous outing. The last Major League pitcher to have back-to-back outings of seven innings in each role was Justin Masterson with the Indians in 2010. Lyles was the third Rangers pitcher to do that along with Doc Medich in 1979 and Jon Matlack in 1982.