Orioles first base prospect Christian Walker to join expanded roster

(Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore…)
September 17, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles didn't initially expect to add one of their top position player prospects, first baseman Christian Walker, to their expanded roster this month.

But with American League East wrapped up -- and 11 games remaining in the regular season -- the Orioles are expected to purchase Walker's contract from Triple-A Norfolk, according to a club source.

Walker has been working out in Sarasota, Fla., as part of a taxi squad the Orioles could pluck from in case they needed an extra player.

Last week, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that it was unlikely Walker would be added to the major league club because he doesn’t need to be added to the organization’s 40-man roster until the end of next season. Also he didn’t foresee an opportunity for Walker to get much playing time down the stretch.

The Orioles still have something to play for. They trail the Los Angeles Angels for the American League's best record -- and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs -- by just three games.

But now that the division is wrapped up, calling up Walker allows the Orioles to spell first baseman Steve Pearce, a relentless worker whom coaches sometimes need to limit. Obviously they're without corner infielder Chris Davis, who is serving a 25-game suspension for testing postive for amphetamines.

Besides Pearce, the players on the Orioles' roster only have limited experience at first base. Kelly Johnson has 29 career starts at first, and Ryan Flaherty has one career start there.  

Walker, the Orioles’ fourth-round selection in 2012 out of South Carolina, was this year’s winner of the Brooks Robinson Player of the Year award, which goes to the organization's best position player in the minors.

He hit .288/.357/.489 with 26 homers and 96 RBIs in 139 games at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. While the organization was pleased with the spike in his power and run production numbers, the strides he made defensively at first base might have been more impressive to the Orioles’ player development staff.

Now, the Orioles will have the opportunity to see how he rates on the major league stage. Last season, the Orioles called up top position-player prospect Jonathan Schoop when rosters expanded in September.

Schoop was a dark horse to make the major league club this spring, but he made the Opening Day roster and has been with the team all season.

MASNSports.com was the first to report that Walker was being called up.

eencina@baltsun.com

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