Finally, we get to a player we will actually get to see in Seattle this year. Walton was called up to the Mariners on Monday after a fantastic season in AA Arkansas. Walton played a lot of shortstop for the Travelers but is probably best suited for second.
He isn’t an amazing athlete and doesn’t have eye-popping tools. But his baseball IQ is off the charts. He is fundamentally sound, rarely makes mistakes, and understands exactly what he can and can’t do on a field.
With the Travs, he slashed .300/.390/.427 with 22 doubles, 11 home runs, 63 walks, and just 72 strikeouts. In short, Walton puts the ball in play and sprays line drives all around the park with excellent knowledge of the strike zone.
None of this profiles as a star and Walton may not be more than a 25th or 26th man on the roster type, but the production on the field certainly warrants further investigation. There are 2 players I see when I watch Walton.
The first is Mark Ellis, former Oakland A’s second baseman. Ellis played in the big leagues for 12 years, slashing .262/.327/.383 and accumulated 33.6 bWAR thanks to his strong defense and bat-to-ball skills.
The other name I see as more of the upside of Walton is Ray’s second baseman, Joey Wendle. Like Walton, Wendle didn’t debut until age-26 and didn’t really stick in the big leagues until he was 28. But Wendle took advantage of his opportunity and slashed .300/.354/.435, cracking 46 extra-base hits and stealing 16 bags.
Walton is probably a big leaguer in some capacity and I guarantee you that you’ll hear a Willie Bloomquist comp at some point. Personally, I believe Walton has some upside, therefore eliminating the Bloomquist comp in my mind.
Walton is a personal favorite of mine, so I’ll be rooting for him to succeed. He will get his chance this month to do just that. Stay tuned for part 2 of our comp series.