‘Excited’ Kapler breaks down Giants’ addition of Calhoun originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Willie Calhoun grew up in Benicia, about an hour away from Oracle Park. He’s the type the Giants would like to keep close to home under Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris and a revamped amateur scouting department, but back in 2015, Calhoun became a Los Angeles Dodger.
Seven years ago, Calhoun was taken in the fourth round of the draft out of a junior college in Arizona, which means the current Giants brain trust knows him well. Zaidi was the general manager of the Dodgers when they selected Calhoun and Gabe Kapler was their director of player development.
They watched as Calhoun hit 27 homers in the minors in 2016 and turned into a top 100 prospect. He was ultimately used as one of the key pieces in a deal that brought Yu Darvish to the Dodgers, but on Thursday he was reunited with Zaidi and Kapler. The Giants sent Steven Duggar to the Rangers for Calhoun and cash considerations.
“I’m personally excited about it. I really like Willie, I think he can really swing the bat,” Kapler told reporters in Atlanta after a 7-6 loss. “He can really make contact with pitches anywhere in the zone and has a history of hitting a lot of line drives to the pull side. I’ve known him for a really long time, I know what his strengths are, and I’m excited that he’s a Giant.”
Calhoun will report to Triple-A Sacramento, where he will serve as additional depth for a front office that values that deeply. The Giants are currently pretty healthy at the big league level but they always prepare for a rainy day, and Calhoun and Yermin Mercedes have added two players over the last week who could help the big league lineup at some point.
Mercedes is considered a bat-first player and scouts say the same of Calhoun, who played only left field and designated hitter for the Rangers. Unlike Mercedes, Calhoun did not have to be added to the 40-man roster, which helped facilitate the transaction.
Duggar was going to have to be added after completing his rehab assignment. He has been on the 60-day IL for two months after straining his oblique, the latest in a long line of injuries that have popped up at the worst possible times for Duggar and kept him from really making a big league impact.
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Duggar was taken two rounds after Calhoun in that 2015 draft and played 254 games for the Giants over the last five seasons. For a while it seemed like he was their center fielder of the future, but shoulder injuries limited him early in his career and he has gotten healthy at a time when the Giants have Joc Pederson, Mike Yastrzemski, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Luis Gonzalez as left-handed-hitting outfielders.
Kapler had plenty of praise for Duggar on Thursday, saying he’s a “top of the charts teammate” and someone to pull for. In Texas, he will be reunited with former Giants hitting coach Donnie Ecker.
“I don’t think there’s a player in (our clubhouse) or a coach that doesn’t think the world of Steven Duggar,” Kapler said. “He’s exceptionally gifted, super athletic and talented all the way around. All of us want to see him have a lot of success going forward. It’s not easy to lose that type of teammate and personality and athlete. Again, I thought we did a nice job in acquiring a player like Willie Calhoun.”
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