Chris Walker: The Speed Merchant of the Minors

If you look at the stats for Chris Walker, one thing jumps out at you immediately, the 220 stolen bases he has had in his five seasons in the minors. Now he isn’t just a guy that steals bases. He also has a decent bat and can work the count to get on base. Walker played the 2006 season at Double-A West Tennessee and appeared in 131 games and finished with a .292 batting average, .351 on-base percentage and racked up 50 stolen bases. Walker was drafted in the 6th round of the 2002 draft by the Cubs.

Walker has been patiently working his way up the Cubs minor league system and in the last few years has become a solid player. He has been invited again to spring training this year in Arizona and will get a chance to win the job in center field. The Cubs don’t currently have an outright centerfielder so all possibilities are open. For now the plan seems to have Matt Murton if left, Alfonso Soriano in center and Jacque Jones in right. If Jones is traded, Soriano could shift to right and open a spot in center. Chris Walker isn’t likely to win the job but you never know what might happen.

Last year during spring training Walker spent a lot of time talking with both Juan Pierre and Marquis Grissom trying to get some pointers that will help him succeed at the higher levels. First, Juan Pierre gave him some good tips about bunting. Pierre’s theory is that if he can put a bunt in the right spot, no one can throw him out, no matter where they are playing. It is nice to know that he was able to learn from Pierre. I don’t know what Cubs fans think of him but he is known as a great bunter. Walker also worked with Pierre on base-stealing in regards to how to read the pitchers and how to get a good jump. Walker obviously has the speed so to be able to get tips from a guy like Pierre it will only make him better. Grissom didn’t have a lot of pointers but did explain how hard it was to get to the majors and how hard it was to stay there. This should give Walker an idea of how much work it will take him to make it to Chicago.

Walker also comes from a family with a lot of baseball history. His grandfather was a player on a semi-pro baseball team at a time when African-American players weren’t able to go much higher. He also had two uncles’s that were baseball players at the collegiate level and now Walker has a chance to make it to the big leagues. He will have to play well because both Felix Pie and Eric Patterson have been mentioned for possibilities in centerfield. It could be a race to see who is first to take the spot and the other two players could be on the outside looking in. Walker obviously has the speed that teams like to have and he has the bat as well but he needs to do them both well to make it to the majors. Watch out for Chris Walker. He isn’t a guy that gets a lot of attention but he might as he gets closer to Chicago.

Walker’s line from 2006 at Double-A West Tenn – .292/.351/.390/741/2/35. He has not had an OBP lower than .344 since 2003. Walker hit 11 triples in 2006 which was the most in the Southern League; he also set a new club record for hits in a season (150) which landed him jut behind the league leader.

Chris Walker’s Baseball Cube page

For more on Thomas’ views on the Cubs, visit www.cubsfanhell.com

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