Looking for the next Jesus Aguilar, Max Muncy or maybe even David Ortiz? Here are four 20-somethings worth a look early this season.
The challenge in any season is to find cheap sources of stats, especially among mid-20s hitters who may not have had chances to play in the past. It doesn’t take a genius to identify that Victor Robles or Fernando Tatis are guys that you have to grab in whatever format you can find.
Discovering the next Max Muncy or Jesus Aguilar is the tougher part. But as the first two weeks of the Major League Baseball season have played out, some of those cheap power sources have started to show themselves and may demand a spot on your roster.
Here’s a look at four strong candidates who you should definitely consider grabbing now. We’re not selling any of them as the next David Ortiz, who showed signs of power at age 25 and 26 before turning himself into a future of Hall of Famer in Boston. However, if you’re looking for a cheap hitting to get you through a year or two, be mindful of all of these guys.
After seven years toiling in the minors behind the likes of Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo in Baltimore and Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona, the 28-year-old Walker is finally getting a chance to play full-time with the Diamondbacks. His path to playing time is clear for at least the next six weeks with lefty-hitting Jake Lamb on the injured list.
The downside for Walker, aside from about a 25 percent strikeout rate over his career, is that he’s a right-handed hitter who is limited for first base only. That’s one of the primary reasons he didn’t get drafted until the fourth round in 2012 as his college career at the University of South Carolina. Like Aguilar, he’s going to have to prove that he can become more than a short-side platoon guy and a quad-A hitter. But Walker has continually shown big-time pop in the minors with seasons of 32 homers (in 2017) and 26 in 2014 in the minors. He was also on pace for a big-time season in the minors in 2018 with 18 home runs in 324 at-bats.
In fact, Walker’s 2017 season was a monster year with a total of 75 extra-base hits and .980 OPS. In 2018, he had 47 extra-base hits and .922 OPS before getting called up, so there is no question he can hit for power and average. Walker is solidly built at 6-foot, 220 pounds and has a quick stroke that generates power and keeps his average reasonable.
He also has a long history of success dating to his days at South Carolina, where he helped the Gamecocks win back-to-back College World Series.