Christian Walker is going to arrive in Baltimore a day late for the division title celebration, but he probably won't mind once he gets to make his big league debut. The Orioles have recalled their fourth round pick from 2012 to the major league club for the final stretch of games this season.
The 23-year-old Walker, selected out of the University of South Carolina, was named the Orioles' Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year for 2014 in only his second full professional season. Between Bowie and Norfolk this season, the right-handed hitting Walker batted .288/.357/.489, although his numbers were much higher in Bowie (Double-A) than Norfolk. He led all Orioles minor leaguers with 26 home runs.
Why Walker, why now? Since Walker was such a recent draftee, there was not any need to add him to the 40-man roster in this upcoming offseason. It probably has something to do with not wanting to force Steve Pearce to start every game at first base for the rest of the season with Chris Davis on the suspended list. The Orioles had an open 40-man spot, and they thought that adding Walker would bring something to the team they don't have right now.
As fate would have it, Pearce is also a former South Carolina Gamecock; he was selected from there by the Pirates in the eighth round of the 2005 draft.
After watching the Orioles celebrate the division title last night, there's little reason to doubt the plans of Dan Duquette.
The question about Walker is largely about whether he'll be able to hit for enough power to be a first baseman in the major leagues. The O's can start to get a little idea about how much to figure him in their long-term plans by giving him some playing time with the post-clinched Orioles this season, so that's exactly what they are doing.
Walker will wear #18 for the Orioles.