Detroit Tigers acquired outfielder Steele Walker in a minor league deal.
The Detroit Tigers have a new President of Baseball Operations running the show at the top of the organization. Scott Harris, who hails from the San Francisco Giants organization, where he was the team's General Manager under Farhan Zaidi.
Harris has wasted no time reaching out to his old mentor. The Detroit Tigers have acquired former second-round pick Steele Walker in a trade with the Giants. The product of the Oklahoma Sooners baseball program has spent time with three teams during his time in affiliated ball.
The trade was a minor-league deal, so Walker will avoid the 40-man roster juggling that is taking place as the team prepares for the Rule 5 Draft and continues working through the off-season roster purge. This was Harris's first trade with the Giants, and it should not be a massive shock for him to target some of the players he brought in while working under Zaidi.
Walker, a 26-year-old who was drafted in 2018 by the Chicago White Sox, adds some organizational depth. It's a term that has been thrown around a decent amount recently, but it is vital to keep building out the farm system and allowing Harris to bring in "his" guys.
Since being drafted, the former Sooners outfielder has risen through the big leagues between the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and Giants organizations. He's a left-handed bat with some power upside but has yet to convert it to the big league level.
Walker will likely head to Toledo and join the organization's Triple-A affiliate for 2023 and hope to further his development there. He made his big league debut in 2022 with the Texas Rangers, playing all of five games for his first chance in the big show.
He was 1-for-14, with his only MLB hit being a home run. He was punched out four times and did not see time in the big leagues with the Giants organization. While it's not nearly enough for a sample size, he did manage 75 games with the Rangers and Giants Triple-A affiliates.
Walker slashed .268/.333/.421 over 280 at-bats with 14 doubles, a triple, and nine home runs to his credit. He picked up 40 RBI and likely caught Harris's eye while with the Giants. For him to go out and trade for Walker to stash in the Tigers system makes me feel like there's something there that Harris feels can be developed further.
That being said, let's look at Walker's swing.
Walker swings it from the left side with an even base and his feet slightly open. He has a slight bat waggle in the back side with hands set high and a back elbow up. He slightly sinks into his backside as he loads. He closes up the front side and gets the hands into a hitting position.
He uses a toe-tap trigger to get on time, getting the foot down and rotating through contact. He's got a direct path, and the power is the intriguing aspect of his offensive tools. It looks like he's got the ability to match planes with pitches, but consistency needs to be seen.
In the tweet above, it mentions both hits were smoked at 102 mph off the bat, and both are hit very differently, with one being shot the other way. The strength is shown with that high exit velocity, getting the barrel through the zone and impacting the ball with strength.
Walker is not a top prospect or going to blow the doors of the minor leagues. But he's a depth addition to stash in the minors. It's a low-risk, high-reward type play. He'll stay in Triple-A, avoid the 40-man crunch, and be able to focus on development.