A few weeks back, the Atlanta Braves picked up Adam Brett Walker. I discussed how I liked the move. Walker is a big-swinging, big-missing power bat with serious swing issues. As a pinch-hit, reserve player, however, his bat could be a help to the Braves lineup.
Here, in case you forgot:
It is a good landing spot for Walker. The Braves took Adonis Garcia — a 30 year old "prospect" — out of the Yankees farm system and have made him a functional place holder on their ever-evolving team. Perhaps they could do the same for Walker.
That is, assuming Walker sticks around longer than his last two spots. The Braves starting outfield is set, so his shortcomings in the field as a fourth outfielder won't be as glaring. Perhaps his power would be most effective in a limited role, taking the time to finally learn how to lay off breaking pitches. The Braves could always use an extra power bat in a lineup that has finished dead last in baseball in home runs the past two seasons.
Yesterday, the Braves continued to reshape this ever-evolving roster, bringing in another Walker.
#Braves have claimed 1B/OF Christian Walker off waivers from #Orioles. He'll be in minor league camp per the team.— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) February 25, 2017
I personally love this move, but it could spell the end for Adam Walker's chances of breaking the big league opening day roster.
Christian Walker is now 25 years old. I am of the belief — and I know I am in the minority — that were he in another organization, he'd likely have a lot more big league at bats. The right-handed hitting first baseman simply had no chance to break the Orioles' 25-man roster, blocked by the likes of Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo.
Walker may be the streakiest hitter at the Triple-A level. Looking at his split averages from 2016 is an emotional roller coaster. Starting in April and going to the end of the season hit he: .300, .209, .228, .311, .250, and .350. It is fun to watch Walker when he is locked in, however. Since the Orioles drafted him in the fourth round out of South Carolina in the 2012 MLB Draft, he has shown good home run and gap power, with the ability to hit for a pretty decent average.
He broke out in 2014 at Double-A Bowie. That season he slashed .301/.367/.516 with 15 doubles and 20 home runs in 95 games before a late season promotion to Triple-A. He struck out 20.2 percent of the time while walking 9.2 percent of the time, both respectable numbers for the first base position.
He hasn't been able to exactly match those numbers in his time in Triple-A and the majors over the past two seasons. Walker has continued to show that he can hit, however. Most importantly he doesn't strike out any where near the astronomical rate that Adam Walker does.
His career line is nice. Over five minor league seasons, he has slashed .276/.342/.449. He has belted 75 home runs (averaging 21 a year over the past three seasons) while adding 119 doubles. His career walk rate isn't fantastic (8.3 percent). It is good enough, however, when paired with his 21.3 career strike out rate.
Walker isn't here to supplant Freddie Freeman at first base. Nor is he going to steal every day at bats in the outfield. What Walker can be is a reliable utility bat. He plays a solid first base and his transition to the outfield last season was passable at the least.
Walker has one option left. This is a huge bonus for him. At the very least, the Braves got solid organizational depth. Despite a poor track record in his 27 MLB at bats, Walker is big league ready in a pinch.
The Braves continue to stockpile prospects that people once had high hopes for. People have watched Adam Brett Walker, Christian Walker and Balbino Fuenmayor for years. Now, they all get a legitimate shot with the Braves this spring.