Scouting Report Twins Outfielder Adam Walker
I posted this video of Twins prospect Adam Walker Sunday night and tweeted it out as a preview for a new series I planned on debuting today. I had intended only spending a few sentences on the power-hitting right fielder. A quick blurb, some video and then I’d move on to another prospect. Then, however, a Youtube comment criticizing my intent for publishing this video was posted, insinuating that Bullpen Banter has shown bias in our coverage of Adam Walker. I figured a full-blown scouting report was the only course of action in this instance. So I scraped the debut of “Quick Hits” for a few more days and am pleased to present this extended, unbiased look at Twins prospect Adam Walker.
I had one opportunity to see Adam Walker this season, during a August 18th game against the Kingsport Mets in Elizabethton, Tennessee, home of the Elizabethton Twins. The following day, I was in nearby Greeneville to cover a contest between the Burlington Royals and the Greeneville Astros. For a lot of prospects, one look can tell a big story, especially when that look includes a fair amount of time watching batting practice. As for Walker, I think his story is clearer than any of the other prospects I covered in that game.
For starters, Adam Walker, a behemoth in person, has unbelievable power; plus power, to be exact. With that said, for a man with great power, his batting practice session was underwhelming. For every ball hit over the fence by the young slugger, there were swings that shouldn’t have existed in a controlled setting like that. I saw a kid over-swinging much more than necessary, trying to hit the houses across the street from the ballpark. While he dropped a few BP fastballs over the fence, he also popped up a few into the cage as well. Walker’s swing is pretty easy to make out in these BP clips. Walker has a pronounced upper tilt to his swing with slightly below average bat speed. His swing can get a bit long and his upper half isn’t always in symmetry with his power base. Most of his power is generated by significant hip rotation.
In game action, Walker looked terrible against any breaking pitch thrown to him. Judging from his overall strikeout numbers, it seems like these swings are the norm for Walker. He struck out an astounding 33% of the time as professional, 76 K’s in 232 at bats. The only just-out-of-college prospect to strike out more than Walker in the Appy League was Royals prospect Fred Ford (39%). The other players that struck out that much were either teenage high school draft prospect or teenaged international prospects.
Defensively, he covered a good bit of ground for a big man in right field and showed off some good athleticism. It’s safe to say he has above average speed. His arm, on the other hand, is an issue. Watching fielding practice, Walker had trouble putting any “oomph” on the ball, which hurts his overall value as a right fielder. If Walker is able to tame his batting woes, it’s likely a position change to either left or first base would be in the cards.
Adam Walker celebrated his 21st birthday this past October. As a 20 year old college-drafted hitter in the Appy, I would have liked to see domination at the plate. An .805 OPS, ranked 18th among qualified hitters in the league, doesn’t look like domination, especially when nine of those hitters ranked ahead of him are younger prospects. Walker will likely graduate to full season A ball in 2013, setting up shop in Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League. Walker needs to dominate to remain a prospect worth following for Twins fans. The blueprint for domination includes improved plate discipline and better pitch recognition. This is easy to identify but will take significant effort for him to achieve.