Prospect Notes: Six Prospects named Walker
Adam Brett Walker, OF, Twins: Drafted in the third round last June from Jacksonville University, Adam Brett Walker is a right-handed power hitter having a solid campaign in the Low-A Midwest League, hitting .273/.321/.502 with 10 homers and six steals, wRC+ of 124. Part of the prospect-laden lineup at Cedar Rapids, Walker hasn't dominated to the same extent as teammate and uber-talent Byron Buxton, but he's shown above-average power potential. It remains to be seen how he'll handle breaking stuff at higher levels, and his BB/K ratio of 15/62 in 265 plate appearances is worse than ideal. He turns 22 in October.
Christian Walker, 1B, Orioles: A fourth round pick in 2012 from the University of South Carolina, Walker was a very successful hitter in college and has remained so in pro ball, hitting .353/.420/.474 (wRC+ 154) in 31 games for Low-A Delmarva this spring, followed by a .294/.355/.449 (wRC+ 122) mark in 35 games after being promoted to High-A Frederick. He makes contact, has some feel for the strike zone, and has plenty of bat speed, but his swing is relatively level and it is an open question if he'll show sufficient home run power to force his way into the major leagues as a corner bat. He's a good defensive first baseman, but unfortunately doesn't run well enough to play the outfield, and his status as a right-handed hitter makes it harder to fit him onto a roster as a platoon type. He turned 22 in March.
Keenyn Walker, OF, White Sox: A supplemental first round pick in 2011 from Central Arizona Junior College, Keenyn Walker is a switch-hitter with outstanding athleticism and 70-grade speed. He can throw well too, and he's developed into a superior defensive center fielder who can also play the corner spots if needed. The speed is also helpful on the bases, where he's swiped 24 in 33 attempts this year. Unfortunately his hitting is otherwise questionable, with a sagging .213/.329/.280 line in 284 plate appearances for Double-A Birmingham. He'll take a walk on occasion (he's drawn 33), but struggles with contact (75 whiffs) and has virtually no in-game power. He looks like he should develop some pop with wiry strength at 6-3, 190, but it hasn't happened yet and his inability to make consistent contact is a handicap. He turns 23 in August.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners: Taijuan Walker was the best-known of the various Walkers heading into 2013 and for good reason: his mid-90s heat, youth, and ultra-athletic 6-4, 210 pound build made him one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, despite a 2012 season that was just so-so statistically. He's gone just 3-7 in 13 starts for Double-A Jackson this spring, though the record is no fault of his own: he's performed well on his own merits, posting a 2.56 ERA with an 84/30 K/BB in 77 innings with just 52 hits and a .190 average allowed. His command has been quite sharp in recent starts and Southern League observers believe he's ready to be promoted to Triple-A. He doesn't turn 21 until August and has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation arm, although I wouldn't expect to see him in Seattle until sometime next season.
Walker Gourley, OF, Pirates: The most obscure Walker is Walker Gourley, drafted in the 13th round in 2009 from high school in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He was ineffective in the low minors, hitting less than .200 in his first two seasons and posting an uninspired .253/.298/.339 last year in the New York-Penn League, but he's taken a step forward this year for Low-A West Virginia, hitting .319/.345/.424 with 14 steals in 20 attempts. Speed seems like his best attribute, but he's a very aggressive hitter (nine walks in 222 PA) and it is uncertain if he can maintain this progress. A former middle infielder, he's now being used mainly as an outfielder and first baseman, increasing the pressure on his bat. He turns 22 next week.
Walker Weickel, RHP, Padres: A supplemental first round pick last June from high school in Orlando, Florida, Weickel is a 6-6, 195 pounder who is still refining his mechanics and secondary pitches. At his best he can hit 95 MPH, though he usually operates a few MPH below that. He currently has a 5.04 ERA with a 33/22 K/BB in 50 innings for Low-A Fort Wayne in the Midwest League, allowing 57 hits. His strikeout rate is rather low, likely reflecting the need to improve his curveball and changeup, but he does pick up a good number of ground balls. He is a long-term development project, albeit one with considerable upside.