breaking news

NEW DETAILS: Armed runner stopped sex assault on trails near Rainey Street, records show

Rangers’ high-level prospects Guzman, Calhoun discuss their futures


First baseman Ronald Guzman takes some long strides in 2017.

Slugger Willie Calhoun say he deals with misconceptions about his abilities.

Express CEO Reese Ryan says Triple-A club will weigh big-league affiliation options after 2018 season.

Ronald Guzman is a long, angular athlete whom scouts hail as the poster boy for what a first baseman should look like.

Willie Calhoun is a short, thick player, a mini-bulldozer who’s trying his best to turn himself into a credible left fielder.

The top two prospects in Round Rock, Guzman and Calhoun, born just two weeks apart in 1994, represent the long and the short of it when looking at the Express’ season.

Guzman, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder who quietly goes about his business, finished his first full Triple-A season batting .298. He hit a modest 12 homers and drove in 62 runs. He was selected team MVP.

Calhoun, a 5-8, 187-pound fan favorite, who plays with a certain panache, batted .300 and was among the Pacific Coast League leaders with 31 homers, 64 extra-base hits and 93 RBI.

Acquired by the Texas Rangers as the centerpiece of their Yu Darvish trade with the Dodgers, Calhoun split the season between Oklahoma City and Round Rock.

Neither Guzman nor Calhoun was promoted to the big leagues at the close of Triple-A play.

“I didn’t expect a call-up,” Guzman said. “My main goal is to do everything I can to put myself in position to play for the Rangers next year.

“The only disappointment was that I wanted to hit .300 and fell a little short, but I’m happy. I was much more consistent. I prepared myself better coming into the year, and I didn’t get tired, mentally or physically like a couple years in the past. My body, my mind, felt better.”

Guzman’s power is expected to develop as he grows into his long limbs.

Calhoun, who already exhibits tremendous power and is a finished product at the plate, thought the Rangers would give him his first big-league taste.

“I put myself in the best position to get called up and to not get the reward … that kind of (stinks),” he said. “A tough pill to swallow, but it’s baseball business, or whatever.”

Calhoun, often mobbed for autographs after home games, said he needs to go above and beyond because he deals with misconceptions.

“I take a lot of pride in batting .300 and reaching 30 homers, just because of the way I’m overlooked a lot because of my height and my size,” he said.

As he works on converting from second base to left field, Calhoun bristles at talk that his defensive play needs to improve. He aims to prove his best spot is not designated hitter. He made no errors in 29 games at Round Rock and just six on the season. In Sunday’s finale, he robbed Oklahoma City’s Kyle Farmer of a home run.

“People who haven’t seen me think I’m a terrible defender just by the stuff they read,” Calhoun said. “If you actually come out and watch me, they think, ‘OK, maybe he isn’t a bad defender at all. Maybe he’s better than average.’ Instead they put too much effort into reading and re-reading old scouting reports.

“I feel like I make all the routine plays, and I get some outs on hard ones, too. My confidence is really high in my defense right now.”

Guzman, the Rangers’ first baseman of the future, also has improved his glovework.

“I’ve heard that criticism and I’ve worked really hard on defense, things like footwork and positioning and giving my fielders the best target,” he said.

“There were a lot of positives. At the plate, I cut down my strikeouts, increased my walks and hit for average. This was a good step forward.”

The Express (66-72), who struggled because of a 5.02 staff ERA and 23-45 road record, hope for a turnaround next year, a season that will have the backdrop of a potential affiliation switch from the Rangers to the Astros next September. Express founder Reid Ryan is president of the Astros, and his father, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, is an executive advisor to the Astros.

“We have enjoyed a great seven-year relationship with the Texas Rangers and look forward to continuing that relationship for the 2018 season,” Express CEO Reese Ryan told the American-Statesman on Wednesday. “Our player development contract is up for renewal at the end of the 2018 season so we will weigh all of our options at that time.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Cotton Bowl Foundation pledges to match donations to Mike Sadler scholarship fund

The Mike Sadler Legacy Football Scholarship Endowment is getting a boost from the Cotton Bowl Foundation. Wednesday, the Cotton Bowl Foundation announced it would match any donations up to $50,000 to the scholarship fund set up to honor the late Michigan State punter. The gift match will run until the Spartans’ spring...
Jared Cornelius promises Arkansas receivers will step up against Texas A&M

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas senior wide receiver Jared Cornelius was wide open on a short out route during the Hogs’ first play against TCU. The pass from quarterback Austin Allen was on time and on target. It was exactly how Arkansas wanted to start the game, a gain of at least 5 yards and a catch for its...
Tennessee football live blog: Butch Jones press conference

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee will take a 2-1 record into the game against UMass on Saturday. The Vols lost to Florida last Saturday 26-20 on a 63-yard touchdown pass as the last play of the game. Coach Butch Jones said the team needed to pay better attention to the details in order to improve as a team. This was Jones’ last time to address...
Quality wins: How Kentucky basketball stacks up against West Virginia

Editor’s note: During the 2017-18 season, Kentucky basketball will play five non-conference games against Power 5 teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season — Kansas ( Nov. 14 in Chicago), Virginia Tech ( Dec...
Less weight, more versatility: Alabama’s Scarbrough aims for return to Under Armour Bo

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — To understand the reference, one must go back to the first time they were teammates, before enrolling at the University of Alabama. It was the 2014 Under Armour All-Star Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Leonard Fournette verbally committed to LSU, Dalvin Cook led all rushers and Sean White won his...
More Stories