First off, as it seems to be a problem here, Walker was only 21 during the entire 201 season for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Not 22, not 22, not 22, not 22.
Born: October 18, 1991 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US (Age 22)
The Kernels season ended in Sept 2013, which is the month before October.
Per Baseball America article...
“Walker is a great mistake hitter. I’ve kept the same (overall scouting grade) on him all the way through,” a pro scout for an American League club said. “For me, he’s still a slow-twitch guy. The jump to the Florida State League is when it comes out. There the breaking balls are a little sharper. (The pitchers) have better command.
“I still have questions about Walker. I don’t know if he can catch up to good fastballs. He can hit the cripples, no doubt. He hits them a long ways.”
When did the questions start...Summer 2011 during the Cape Cod League...
skepticism about his hitting ability began two years ago with a really bad month.
Over the final month of the summer college league season, Walker hit .089/.180/.156 with one extra-base hit and 23 strikeouts in 45 at-bats. With plenty of amateur scouts and front office executives checking in on him over that stretch, the lasting impression was of a hitter who seemed overmatched.
“His power is unbelievable...In a home run contest for the Cape Cod League at Fenway (Park) . . . he made (Stanford’s) Austin Wilson look like he was hitting in Williamsport.”
Also...on if Walker can take ground balls and handle 1B...he played 1B in college.
Scouts and GMs alike can dream on the power in Walker's bat and the potential in his frame to unlock even more. His swing, however, needs plenty of refinement before he can tap into the power potential he has. He is frequently unbalanced throughout and his timing is inconsistent at best.
So what's everyone's take on these four guys?
BB% and K% rates apply (see far right).
Ceiling, Floor, ETA (if ever)?
How would you rank them in terms of likelihood to make it to MLB and do well?
a. Kenny Vargas
b. Dalton Hicks
c. Travis Harrison
d. Adam Walker
Year Year Age Tm Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB BB/PA SO/PA Kenny Vargas 2012 21 Beloit MIDW A 41 186 154 22 49 10 1 11 36 0 28 41 0.318 0.419 0.610 1.030 3 15.1% 22.0% 2013 22 Fort Myers FLOR A+ 125 520 457 68 122 33 1 19 93 0 50 105 0.267 0.344 0.468 0.813 3 9.6% 20.2% Dalton Hicks 2013 23 Cedar Rapids MIDW A 89 400 354 50 105 31 0 13 82 0 34 85 0.297 0.355 0.494 0.850 2 8.5% 21.3% 2013 23 Fort Myers FLOR A+ 42 176 148 18 40 8 0 4 28 0 22 38 0.270 0.364 0.405 0.769 0 12.5% 21.6% Travis Harrison 2013 20 Cedar Rapids MIDW A 129 537 450 66 114 28 0 15 59 2 68 125 0.253 0.366 0.416 0.782 3 12.7% 23.3% Adam Walker 2013 21 Cedar Rapids MIDW A 129 553 508 83 141 31 7 27 109 10 31 115 0.278 0.319 0.526 0.844 3 5.6% 20.8%
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Walker is the best athlete but he is going to have to be more selective as he moves up because better pitchers won't give him good pitches to hit.
Harrison is the opposite in some ways to Walker. Despite having a sweet swing he hasn't dazzled statistically. He walks a lot but also K's a lot. He's hit some bombs but only has a so-so .160 isoP so far. His offense is going to need to carry him because very few think he will stick at 3B.
D.J. Hicks seemingly has no buzz and is even older than Vargas and is a step behind him on the depth chart. Hicks differs from Vargas since he played college ball and his significantly more baseball experience. His stats are similar to the rest but he seems to be org depth similar to Brock Peterson, Erik Lis and Garrett Jones from 5 yrs ago. One of those did become a solid role player though.
I think Vargas is the best bet to be an MLB startable player (at DH). Walker and Harrison have higher ceilings but neither is likely to make the majors. The good news is that the Twins have several of these guys and combined one is likely to make it.
Kepler kind of matches up with Harrison. He's a solid prospect that hasn't flopped but his raw skills haven't translated to his statline.
I'd go Harrison, Vargas/Walker, Hicks
2 - Harrison
3 - Walker
3 - Hicks
At the start of the off-season I said if Vargas was added to the 40 man he could get a shot a at 1B sometime around July or August in 2014. - Because there wasn't that many options at 1B in the system. But now that Mauer is there, I don't think thats likely. However, if he continues to hit for power and get on base, he might get a shot in 2015. As a DH, right now he is being blocked by Willingham/Doumit/Colabello. All three of those guys probably won't be with the team in 2015, so he might be in the mix. He is a switch hitter and seems to hit OK from both sides of the plate but might be better from the right side. His ceiling is a power hitting 1B. And based on positional value, probably the lowest ceiling
Harrison - He is supposed to have a great swing and is a hardworker. I dunno. I have seen bad comments on his D and he hasn't produced. But he is young and has decent plate discipline, maybe he can get it going. If he improves at the plate, I would say best case is 2016 arrival. He might have the highest "ceiling" of the 4 but he would have to learn how to play the OF.
Walker - My feelings on him were already said. Unless he learns how to get on base, his ceiling is a 4th OF with some pop. If he makes it will be 2017. - But if he changes his approach at the plate and learns how to get on Base he would be at the top of this list.
Hicks - He has the lowest ceiling but OK power. He is a 1B who adds some depth to the organization and could get a cup of coffee in 2017.
Walker OB% was .319 - not good
McGuire in A ball was .393
Buhner was .392
Sexson as a 19 Year old in A ball was .338
High K% and even a Low BB% is fine if you can find other ways to get on base - especially if you got power. Walker needs to do that, if he does..MAN he could be fun. But I don't have a lot of hope on college guys who keep having the same issues.
If the point is that this will not last due to law of averages (ok). We will agree to disagree. I tend to believe in history and results over that history. Winners win or find a way to win. I want the dude who knows how to score and drive in runs with consistency. I'll take a poor mans version of Sano any day. Sano walks more (65 to 31) and K's more (27% to 20%) than Walker, but scored 3 more runs than Walker and drove in less. He's the number #3 player in all of baseball (with good reason / Awesome player). Sano in MLB at 21 - Walker at 24 - I'll take their adjusted learning curves and relish for years to come. I see the major improvements in both.
Every kid in A ball has been a winner their whole life. They are amazing baseball players even if that's as far as they get. Do you know who Cole Garner is? In 06, as a 21 year old, he led all A ball in runs (100) while knocking 19 home runs and 40 doubles. He had a ISO well over .200, walk rate below 5% and a krate at 25%. He was a 26th round pick who managed to play 4 games in the majors. Jonathan Greene, Cody Johnson, Seth Fortenberry. All of these guys scored a lot of runs or hit a lot of home runs or both at A ball at the same age or younger. Johnson was a first round pick who hit 94 minor league home runs before he was 22. He was playing in the indy leagues at 24. Guys who dominated A ball are legion. They were all winners. But those who can't learn to control the strike zone usually don't make it to the majors.
And that is what the concern about Walker is all about. No one doubts his tools - he could be a great player. But right now, he is not a great prospect b/c, based on his play, scouts worry about how his hitting approach will work as he starts to face better hitters. (Now, when I say not a great prospect I don't mean to diss him. He'd certainly be a top 10 prospect in other team's systems but right now he's more lottery ticket than prospect. I'm really glad the Twins have him).
Though just a small sample size...3 and myself. I tend to like Vargas the most, too.
He lost a lot of 'development' with that 50 game suspension a couple years back (2011). It was due to taking Phentermine, which is used to help in weight loss.
Ft. Myers had him listed as 6'5'' 274 this past season...
The issue I think you are missing is that the stats don't simply translate up the chain. Things will change for him in Fort Meyers, just as they will change when he hits New Brittian, Rochester, and (hopefully) Minnesota. The question at hand has a lot to do with why he's so divergent with walks and Ks. If he's free swinging at pitches out of the zone, he's going to find that he will have to make adjustments as pitchers will pitch him out of the zone far more than they should. If his problem is that he simply cannot hit the breaking pitches, he's going to be in for a rude awakening in AA.
After watching Walker in CR all season, my impression is that his case is more the former than the latter. It often felt like he just really likes to HIT and especially with runners on base. He gets off on driving in runs and that led him to expand his strike zone more than he should have. I think that's something experience and instruction can help him with. He may always be a bit of a "mistake hitter," but man can he hit those mistakes a long way.
More on Walker...
Jerry (San Diego): Where would you rate Adam Brett Walker's power on the scouting scale? Do you anticipate he will make enough contact as a hitter to be a good prospect as he moves up through the minors or do you think his Ks will get the best of him?
Jim Shonerd: At least a 70 raw power. As we’ve written elsewhere, he’s right there with Sano in terms of sheer power. Before this year, I would’ve said yes, strikeouts will be his undoing, but he’s made promising progress cutting them down.
I'm highest on Vargas...Walker 2nd...Harrison and Dalton. My guess on Dalton is AAAA player at best.
Prospect-wise, it goes: 1.) Walker, 1b. Harrison, 3.) Vargas, 4.) Hicks.
Power-potential wise: 1.) Walker, 2.) Harrison, 3.) Vargas, 4.) Hicks.