Dan Duquette and the Orioles are always on the prowl for players they might find on the waiver wire who could, if you squint hard enough, turn into something. They found another one of those players on Thursday afternoon, plucking outfielder Adam Walker off of waivers from the Brewers.
This is a very Duquette move. Walker, a 6’5” righty batter who turned 25 in October, hits baseballs hard and far. He blasted 31 home runs in 133 games in Double-A and hit 27 more in 132 games in the Triple-A International League this past season. That’s a lot of dingers.
However, you probably shouldn’t rush out to re-purpose your Christian Walker jerseys for Adam Walker, because there is an obvious downside that explains why he was found on the waiver wire, changing teams for the second time this offseason.
The new Oriole Walker struck out 202 times in 531 plate appearances this past season. That is a 38% strikeout rate. You probably think Chris Davis struck out a lot this season, because he did strike out a lot. And even Davis “only” struck out 32.9% of the time.
Aside from the home runs, another thing in Walker’s favor is that he has two minor league options remaining. So the Orioles don’t have to try to use him right away, which is good, because he probably should not be used right away.
Walker should probably not be used at all, unless something changes with his strikeout rate or if he just starts hitting so many home runs at Norfolk that the Orioles can’t ignore it. He is not an answer to any question you actually want to ask.
As a reflection on how horrible the Orioles farm system is, Walker slots in promptly at #18 in the system, according to the MLB Pipeline Top 30.
The Duquette quote bot on Walker says about what you would expect:
Duquette: "Adam Walker has excellent power & good ability to drive in runs. We look forward to him helping our team." #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 2, 2016
Is he very likely to ever actually help the team? No, of course not. But there’s little harm in acquiring Walker on a waiver claim. He only costs a 40-man roster spot, and at the moment, they’ve got three more of those to spare. They can always DFA him later. Duquette loves to do that too.