Minor League Prospect Note: Christian Walker, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles first base prospect Christian Walker is 6-for-11 in his last three games for the Aberdeen Ironbirds in the New York-Penn League, pushing his overall line up to .302/.383/.453 with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 53 at-bats. A fourth round pick in the draft this June, Walker is well-known to college ball fans thanks to three years of heroics at the University of South Carolina. His college performance was impeccable: he hit .336/.427/.533 in 197 college games, with 45 doubles, 30 homers, and a 105/72 BB/K ratio in 737 at-bats. He showed especially good plate discipline this year, with a 51/24 BB/K in 240 at-bats.
Despite his college numbers and consistently strong performance against tough competition, Walker lasted until the fourth round. He's a stocky 6-0, 220 pounder, and scouts tend to be somewhat skeptical about right-handed hitting first basemen unless they are exceptional hitters or top-flight athletes. Some scouts say Walker has a bad body, but he showed mobility around the first base bag in college and he's got enough athleticism to avoid the "born DH" label. Walker's approach to hitting is polished, but scouts weren't certain exactly how his big college numbers would translate to pro ball, due to average raw power and a swing that may produce more hard gap shots than over-the-fence homers. All that said, Walker has done nothing but hit and hit well for years, and I think he has a decent chance to be a productive hitter at higher levels.