Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Orioles are having trouble scoring runs as of late. Other than Nelson Cruz and his MLB-leading 19 home runs, the Orioles cannot seem to score multiple runs in games consistently. The debate over whether it is just a slump, a mechanic issue, or a coaching issue is never ending.
Some think the Orioles should replace Jim Presley as the hitting coach. Others think Baltimore should try to bring up some of the Minor League players. This second option may be promising. From what I see, the Orioles have one option to choose from as far as Minor League players who are ready to be brought up and will make the biggest difference.
Christian Walker is this one option. In Bowie this season, Walker has batted .325/.388/.574. He is a player who has power. Hitting 14 round-trippers, he is tied for the most home runs this season in the Eastern League. He also knows how to drive in runs with his Eastern League-leading 46 RBI’s.
Walker has been working his way up the Orioles Minor League system ever since he was drafted by the ball club in the fourth round of 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
In 2013, Walker started the season with the Delmarva Shorebirds and ended the year with the Bowie Baysox. After hitting .353 with the Shorebirds, he played 55 games with the Frederick Keys where he hit eight home runs and 35 RBI’s. He was then promoted to Double-A Bowie for the his last 17 games of the 2013 season. In 69 plate appearances, his batting average dropped to .242 and he failed to hit a single home run in those final games.
Despite this slump at the end of the 2013 season, he has made major improvements in the off season and, in 2014, he may be the most reliable bat throughout the Orioles Minor League teams.
Walker’s progress has been quick and impressive. The former South Carolina Gamecock reminds me of Manny Machado and his progress in the Minors. In Machado’s third year in the Minors, he got the call up to start at third base for the Baltimore Orioles. As Walker is in the midst of his third year in the Minors, he may get his call up to Baltimore soon.
If Walker does come up to the Majors, I would like to see him start at first for two reasons. One, if Walker’s Minor League at-bats can transfer over to the Major League level, then he may be what this team needs to enliven the struggling offense of Baltimore. Two, if Showalter replaces Chris Davis with Walker if for just one game, it may give Davis that “wake up call” he needs to get out of this slump he has been in as of late.
If not at first Walker would be a useful player to have in the team’s back pocket who Showalter can use on days where Cruz is playing in left and he needs to put someone in the designated hitter role.
Whichever it may be, if Walker was brought up, hopefully it will get this Baltimore team out of their funk they have been in. Losing 13 of their last 19 games, the Orioles need to do something to get back on track and Walker just may be the ticket.