By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
May 24, 2010
Taijuan Walker certainly helped his draft value in his playoff outing Friday.
The first thing I noticed was that Walker looked a touch stronger and more filled out than when I saw him in February. This was the best outing I have seen from him since his last look in the Fall. In this stint, Walker was poised and confident. He hit 95 a few times in the first inning and threw several 94 mph fastballs with hard life low in the strike zone. He’s a legit 6-foot-6. Walker is a big arm without question, showing plane and power.
Walker can hit 95, but tends to fly open and lose his front side and fastball command when he does so. He doesn’t always get help from his backside, and while he has a fast arm, these mechanical pieces hurt his consistent release points. At this time, he will only hit 95 a few times before it drops. He was best at 93-94 early in the game. His fastball velocity maintained at 92-93 in the middle innings. His stuff slipped in the fifth inning when he fell to 89-91.
The best secondary pitch for Walker was a change-up, 80-81, thrown with deception and occasional sink. He has a breaking ball at 74-75, which he cannot yet consistently harness. The curveball here has some signs of power, though it is more consistently a harder slurve. He doesn’t yet create enough consistent speed separation between his second and third pitches.
Walker is a power arm that is inexperienced. The slider is occasionally hard but he has to repeat it more often at the next level. His change-up can be a future weapon. His fastball is more effective at 91-94 with natural movement than it is when he humps up. He hasn’t learned how to pitch yet in the sense that he’s just developing the feel for knowing when he needs to take something off to throw a strike.
Walker is a very good athlete and he’s got good balance and coordination considering his height and lack of overall innings. I felt his change-up got better as he got deeper into the game, and he showed the willingness to pitch with both the fastball and change while he fought for steady control of whichever breaking ball worked best at a given time.
I expect Walker to go very good in this draft. I also expect him to go much, much better than most mock drafts will place him. I believe the best three power arms in Southern California in the 2010 draft are Covey, Tago and Walker.
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