The Yankees may have found a gem on the cheap
The Yankees have a number of non-roster invitees vying for a 26-man spot for the Opening Day roster, but none have impressed more than their former fourth-round pick in 2015, Willie Calhoun. Aside from having a perfect baseball name, the 28-year-old left fielder has dealt with a number of injuries over the years, including a broken jaw, a broken arm, and a number of minor issues in 2022.
Last season for the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants, Calhoun made just 22 appearances, making 62 starts. 135 with a .274 OBP, one homer, and three RBIs for a 12.9% strikeout rate. Calhoun excels in the strikeout percentage category, averaging 15.3% throughout his career. Calhoun only enjoyed one reasonable season as an MLB player over the course of six years.
Again in 2019, he played in 83 games for the Rangers, hitting .269 with a .323 OBP, 21 homers, and 48 RBI. He has more than enough power to get the ball over the outfield fence, and he’s done a great job showing contact qualities with the underrated strength of the Yankees this spring.
The Yankees see the best in Willie Calhoun:
In fact, he’s making a legitimate push for a roster spot, playing a similar role to last year’s Matt Carpenter, playing DH, and also capable of filling the field.
“I think it’s in the mix,” Boone said.
Defensively, Calhoun is not the most athletic or productive option. He played 1,282 innings in left field during his career, posting a . 983 fielding percentage with -14 passes defensed saved and -14 points above average. At best, he can provide mediocre defense, but his offensive qualities suggest untapped potential.
“I thought he did a good job with his pitches, hitting cut-off men, and keeping players on base they should have been in… I feel like he’s more than held his own up to this point. I don’t think he’s been challenged too much, but he’s handled the routine play that needs to be done.” to deal with it.”
Over 30 spring training at bats, Calhoun has recorded 11 hits, four runs, a homer, and three RBIs. He hits .367 with .472 OBP and 1.005 OPS. While his spring numbers don’t necessarily translate into the regular season, he’s undeniably optimistic that he’s hitting consistently and has found his groove.
If the Yankees are stuck choosing between a few non-roster call-ups, Calhoun should definitely be in the mix and he could end up being a productive player when called up to the Yankees in 2023.