Top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker will make his Triple A debut on Tuesday night at Cheney Stadium - weather permitting. News Tribune columnist John McGrath caught up with Walker on Sunday and talked to him about the promotion.
From John's column ....
Walker’s last three Southern League starts with the Generals were sensational — he struck out 28 batters in 20 innings, allowing only one walk — but savvy Triple-A hitters will present a different challenge for the 20-year-old right-hander.
A lot of these guys have major league experience. They don’t give up at-bats, no matter the score, and they don’t give in to pitchers. That Walker seems to be speeding to The Show in an express lane won’t be lost on them, either.
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The gap between Double A and Triple A might be more pronounced than Triple A to the major leagues, but as Walker chatted in the third-base dugout Sunday before the Rainiers’ victory over Fresno, the PCL’s youngest player exuded confidence.
“I’m excited and happy to be here,” he said, “but at the same time, it’s not my last stop. There’s still one more step I want to get to.”
Since that 2012 FanFest appearance with fellow pitching prospects Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, the 6-foot-4 Walker — then the gawky teenager of the trio — has filled out and grown up.
Last season, Walker struggled to work beyond the fourth or fifth inning. At issue was his endurance (since addressed by maintaining a strict workout regimen) and his mechanics. The fastball that has wowed scouts since high school still was popping, but he had trouble locating it, and he had lost faith in the curve and change-up, his usual secondary pitches.
“Pretty much every pitch was a problem for me last year,” said Walker, who spent the entire season in Double A. “I really didn’t have my breaking ball, didn’t have my change-up. And my fastball command wasn’t there at all.
“So I made some tweaks. So much of it is mental, too. Mentally, I feel a lot stronger. My confidence is real high right now.”TNT intern Sam Horn (not the former Red Sox first baseman) had the game story from the Rainiers' 5-4 win. Brad Miller hit a two-run homer (below) and had the game winning sac fly.
Dustin Ackley had three hits in the game. Here's video of one them below ...
Double A Jackson rolled to a 9-3 win behind a grand slam from Ramon Morla.
Class A High Desert scored three runs in the top of ninth to pick up an 8-7 win over Bakersfield.
Top draft pick DJ Peterson hit a grand slam and Justin Seager had the walk-off game wining single in Everett's 6-5 win over Hillsboro.