While the Baltimore Orioles haven’t been off to a hot start this spring training, first baseman Christian Walker has been a bright for the O’s so far.
It is still early in the 2016 preseason, but Walker has been playing well. In five games Walker is batting .333 with a home run and six runs batted in. Walker also has scored four runs, smacked two doubles and one triple.
Walker was drafted by the Orioles during the fourth round in the 2012 amateur draft out of the University of South Carolina. During his three years as a Gamecock Walker batted .336 with 30 HR and 168 RBI over the span of 197 games.
Walker has done very well in AA Bowie. Over the course of 428 at-bats, Walker batted .292 with 20 HR and 78 RBI. During the 2015 season, Walker spent the vast majority of his year in AAA Norfolk where he batted .257 over 534 at-bats. Walker hit 18 HR and had 74 RBI as well as collecting 33 doubles.
One of the Walker’s best attributes is his ability to get on base, something the Orioles need desperately.
During his final year at South Carolina Walker posted an impressive .450 on-base percentage. Walker’s on-base percentage at AA Bowie was .360 and his OBP at AAA Norfolk thus far is .327.
The Orioles have a definite need for someone who can get on base. While the O’s don’t have a need at first base with Chris Davis locked down for the next several years, Walker could perhaps try his hand at playing left field because let’s be honest, between Walker, Mark Trumbo and Nolan Reimold, there aren’t exactly any Gold Glovers out in left.
While the Orioles have been linked to trade rumors involving Cincinnati Reds’ outfielder Jay Bruce, perhaps they give Walker his fair shot this spring. It looks to be that way now, with Walker playing in five games so far, but if it turns out he needs more seasoning, then let him spend another year in AAA before bringing him up.
The issue with Bruce is that the O’s will have to trade to get him and what makes that trade even riskier is that Bruce will be a free agent after this season, although there is a 2017 team option. As of now it seems as though Buck Showalter is giving Walker a fair shake and if he plays well, he could very well play himself onto the O’s Opening Day roster.
By Andy Mindzak