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Express’ top prospect bummed he won’t get his MLB debut


Willie Calhoun will have to wait until next year to reach the bigs.

Express finish season with 6-1 win over OKC Dodgers.

When Major League Baseball rosters expanded last Friday and Willie Calhoun did not get promoted by the Texas Rangers, he was hopeful his time would come after the Triple-A season ended Monday.

The Rangers had other ideas. Calhoun, the Round Rock Express slugger, found out he will not make his big-league debut this month, leaving a bittersweet taste with the 22-year-old after his 2-for-3 day at the plate in the Express’ 6-1 victory over Oklahoma City.

“It’s disappointing,” said Calhoun, acquired in July by the Rangers from the Dodgers in the Yu Darvish trade. “I put myself in the best position to get called up and to not get the reward … that kind of (stinks). A tough pill to swallow, but it’s baseball business — or whatever.”

The Rangers would have needed to cut another player from the 40-man roster to create a spot for Calhoun. They weren’t willing to do that.

“They told me two days ago,” he said. “They said I wasn’t on the (40-man) roster and at my age they didn’t want to do anything. I have no control over that.”

So Calhoun finishes 2017 with these numbers: .300 batting average, 31 home runs, 93 RBIs, 64 extra-base hits.

If Round Rock (66-72) had him all season, it wouldn’t have finished six games below .500. And if the Express had gotten starting pitching like Adrian Sampson gave them Sunday, they surely wouldn’t have finished 23 games out of first place.

Sampson, recovering from elbow surgery, made his second Triple-A start of the year and pitched a three-hitter over five innings, allowing one run. He threw five innings of shutout ball in his first outing.

A pitching staff with a 5.02 ERA, 12th in the PCL, was a major reason for the team’s troubles.

Round Rock had to stitch together a lineup the last few days because of call-ups and injuries.

When center fielder Jared Hoying was promoted by the Rangers, his replacement came out of the bullpen, of all places. Xavier Paul, a former outfielder being converted into a pitcher, took his place Sunday night. Paul didn’t even have a fielder’s glove, needing to borrow one. On Monday, Paul was the designated hitter.

Catcher Brett Hayes got his first career start at third base Saturday. Ryan Rua, a corner infielder and outfielder, started at second base. Starting pitcher James Dykstra was the team’s bench player Monday. Fortunately, he wasn’t needed. Several youngsters made their Triple-A debuts over the holiday weekend.

Yet things came together nicely in the season finale, the Express building a 5-0 lead after three innings. Rua and Hayes, reacting well to their new surroundings, each drove in two runs.

Then they all said goodbye to 2017.

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