ESPN: Buy into strong spring from D-backs’ Taijuan Walker

Apr 2, 2017, 2:03 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks' Taijuan Walker throws during spring training baseball workouts, Thursday, Feb...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Taijuan Walker throws during spring training baseball workouts, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker looked strong in seven spring games for the club, and one ESPN writer thinks his good play will extend into the season.

ESPN baseball analyst Jim Bowden listed Walker among the players whose good spring performances are worth buying into. Walker went 2-1 in 27.1 innings with a 3.29 ERA. He struck out 32 opponents while only giving up two walks.

Bowden thinks some of the changes Walker made mean his high level of play is likely to continue.

Walker has made a couple of important adjustments this spring: turning his cutter into a slider and adding a turn to keep him better online to the plate so he doesn’t spin on/off as much. His fastball velocity is back in the mid-90s with improved command, his curveball command has improved, and he’s throwing the changeup with better deception.

Walker has had great springs in the past and then faltered when the season started, but this year seems to be different. Combine maturity, entering his prime years and important mechanical adjustments, and the formula is there for a breakout season. Pitching half your games at Chase Field won’t help, but I think what we’re seeing in spring training can be maintained in the regular season.

Walker, 24,  was drafted in the first round in 2010 by the Mariners. On Nov. 23, 2016, Seattle sent him to the D-backs along with Ketel Marte in exchange for Jean Segura, Zac Curtis and Mitch Haniger.

While Segura was the supposed centerpiece, Haniger has looked good for the Mariners. He also made Bowden’s list after hitting .385 in spring training and collecting 11 doubles.

Haniger has been impressive this spring leading the Mariners in hits while showing off both power and speed. Based on what we’ve seen in spring training, Haniger has a legitimate shot to be a Calhoun-type overachiever for Seattle this year.

While the D-backs traded a player who had a breakout spring, they got one back as well, one who Bowden believes will carry his success into the MLB season.


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ESPN: Buy into strong spring from D-backs’ Taijuan Walker