Today we're wrapping up our series of MLB Draft previews (done in collaboration with the USC-grad-run Crawfish Boxes), at least for the moment. Today, we're chatting about Gamecocks slugger Christian Walker. Walker, a junior, has the option of coming back for his senior season, but after a strong career as a Gamecock, he'll be an attractive prospect in the coming draft and may choose to forego his senior season if things go well for him. What are the chances of that happening? Let's take a look.
Walker has improved since coming to Columbia. In his freshman year, he was a solid hitter who earned freshman All-America honors en route to helping the Gamecocks earn their first national title. In his sophomore season, he became the team's premier bat, hitting .358 with a .554 slugging percentage en route to helping Carolina repeat. This year, his average has taken a slight dip to .338, but his slugging percentage remains at .553. Walker has also been effective in drawing walks over the course of his career, and only rarely strikes out. As the numbers suggest, Walker is an all-around excellent hitter who can hit for average and on-base percentage as opposed to just power. He hits the ball where it is pitched and can use his wrists to adjust well to moving pitches. He's also a very good fielder who can play both first and third base. To top it all off, he's tough, having played his way through injury in last year's CWS, and making some key plays while hurt, to boot.
Are there any? One thing that may play against Walker is that while he's an excellent athlete, he's not a physically imposing player, a la your typical MLB first baseman / power hitter. That may cause teams to wonder if he's capable of producing similar power numbers in the pros. However, again, Walker is not a one-dimensional hitter, so questions about his power will be assuaged by the strengths in the rest of his game.
Walker is a total-package-type player who stands the best shot of all of our guys of making it to the big leagues. He's likely to be taken in the early rounds, mid at the latest. As such, this is likely Walker's last season in the garnet and black.