Christian Walker has been one of the top prospects throughout the 2014 season in the Orioles Farm System. Starting the year out in Double-A Bowie, Walker proved he can hit and hit with power, batting .301 with 20 home runs in the first 95 games of the year.
After which, he was promoted to the Triple-A level where he is currently playing with the Norfolk Tides. Despite a significant decrease in batting average (hitting .250 with the Tides), Walker is still believed to be one of the few players in the Orioles Farm System that is ready for the Major League level.
With this being said, talks of promoting Walker to the Orioles have diminished greatly in the past month and I believe I know why.
The Baltimore Orioles pride themselves on having versatile players, meaning playing multiple positions. This is key when players are not performing well like Chris Davis earlier in the year and when players get untimely injuries such as Matt Wieters and Manny Machado.
For example, players like Steve Pearce and Nick Markakis have played first base when Showalter points to them in a time of need and not only do they willingly accept the challenge, they play exceptionally well at their new position. Another instance this year is at third base. With Machado recovering from injury at the beginning of the season and then getting another untimely injury a couple weeks ago, players including Jonathan Schoop, Davis, and Ryan Flaherty have had to take on third base. Not allowing the absence of #13 to hurt their team’s chances of winning, all three have played the position well.
Schoop, although out of his comfort zone at third base, still has a .902 fielding percentage with four errors on the year. Davis has a .909 fielding percentage with only two errors on the year, making the majority of the routine plays at the “hot corner.” And Flaherty has a .967 fielding percentage and is probably the best defensive choice for the Orioles at third base for the moment.
Every player on the Orioles roster has the ability and willingness to play another position in the field if the team needs him there for a game, a series, or longer if need be. This relates to Walker because he is not a versatile player.
Walker has never played at another position throughout his Minor League career. Despite playing a good first base with a career .992 fielding percentage in the Minors, he needs to be versatile enough where he can play another defensive role if the team needs him.
If Walker can play a good second or third base, the Orioles may be inclined to give the “versatile” Walker a chance in the Majors this season.