31 days until Mariners Opening Day: Previewing Donovan Walton

SEATTLE - September 29: Donovan Walton of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SEATTLE - September 29: Donovan Walton of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
Donovan Walton of the Mariners turns two.
SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 27: Donovan Walton of the Seattle Mariners turns two. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

The countdown is slowly winding down! We’re just 31 days away from Mariners Opening Day! So, let’s get to know #31 Donovan Walton and what to expect from him.

Walton was Seattle’s fifth-round selection in the 2016 MLB draft, which happens to be the same draft we chose 2020 AL Rookie of the Year, Kyle Lewis. He is now 26-years-old and has played 12 games in the big leagues across two seasons.

Donovan Walton in the Mariners farm system

After four great seasons at Oklahoma State, he was sent straight to Everett to finish off the 2016 baseball season. During his first professional season, he batted .281, slugged .421, hit five home runs, drove in 23 runs, and stole six bases.

As far as defense, he played 17 games at second, and 20 games at shortstop. In those games, he made nine errors combined which isn’t all that impressive.

For his second season in the Mariners organization, he actually took a step back and made 17 appearances in rookie ball before being promoted to High-A Modesto. The Texas native had another solid offensive year hitting .271, hit four home runs, and drove in 29 runs.

Although Walton isn’t known for his power, he handled the bat pretty well in the minor leagues. 2017 was a better year for him defensively and posted a combined .975 fielding percentage while playing first, second, and shortstop.

In 2018, Walton started in High-A and went up to Double-A Arkansas, a very important level. He started off hot at Modesto but couldn’t make the adjustment when he got to Arkansas.

He hit .309 in Modesto but hit .236 in Arkansas, which combined for a .273 batting average. As far as his defense, he improved it to a .979 fielding percentage.

And finally, he spent most of 2019 in Double-A again but he did make his MLB debut. This time, he absolutely smashed Double-A pitching but the jump from Arkansas to Seattle was rough on him.

He had 19 plate appearances with the big league team and he hit .188. We saw Walton again last season for a brief period. He had 14 plate appearances and hit .154. No luck yet.

What to expect from Donovan Walton in 2021

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To be quite honest, the former Mariners prospect doesn’t seem to have that big of a ceiling. Last season, he was the 22nd ranked Mariners prospect right behind Joe Rizzo. Walton has average or below average numbers on his scouting report.

  • Hitting – 50
  • Power – 40
  • Run – 50
  • Arm – 45
  • Field – 55
  • Overall – 40

The left-handed hitter will probably just end up being an infield utility type of player in the near term. He might need to learn how to play outfield pretty soon if he wants to provide the team some value (just like Dylan Moore and Shed Long Jr. did).

The good thing is that he has produced in the minor leagues, so it’s not like he is a complete bust of a draft pick. Maybe he just needs to see some more quality pitching to adapt. Granted he hasn’t had a chance to play at Tacoma yet and made the jump from Double-A to the MLB which isn’t the easiest thing to do.

The Mariners have a lot of young depth right now and Donovan Walton might be forced out unless he can prove himself in the spring. Baseball Reference projects him to hit .236, with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 221 plate appearances.

At the moment, I think that is a generous projection because I just don’t think there is enough room for him. But who knows, maybe he will be a late bloomer. D-Moore turned it on last season as a 27-year-old. Donovan Walton will turn 27 in May.

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