06/06/12 12:15 AM ET
Twins like Walker's bloodlines, power potential
By Jordan Garretson / MLB.com
The physicality runs in the family. He is the son of Adam Walker, who played running back for the Minnesota Vikings in 1987. His mother, Glynis, was a national champion high jumper and volleyball player at Carthage College. Former All-Star infielder Damion Easley is his second cousin.
"Both my parents coached as well," Walker said. "I grew up around sports my whole life. I just always enjoyed athletics and any sport really, just competition."
Walker -- who has drawn comparisons to the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton -- leaves little doubt that he possesses the tools to become a big league slugger. But will he be able to put it all together and reach his potential for the Twins, who chose him Tuesday with the second pick of the third round (No. 97 overall)?
Some scouts say Walker has as much raw power as anyone in this Draft class.
"At the top of the Draft, you want to try to look for the premium ability," said Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president of player personnel. "He certainly was one of the best guys with power in the Draft.
"You're always looking for power. That's just how it played out that we were able to get him in that round. We are happy to get him."
The Milwaukee native dominated opposing pitching throughout his college career. He hit 16 home runs as a freshman. Walker was named a 2011 All-American by numerous publications after hitting .409 with 13 home runs, 23 doubles and 75 RBIs. And he hit .343 with 12 home runs this past season as a junior.
Walker isn't short on athleticism, either. He stole 40 bases on 41 attempts in three seasons with Jacksonville.
But questions about Walker's ability to adapt to higher-level pitching arose when he struggled in the Cape Cod League last summer. He hit just .216 with four home runs and 17 RBIs with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks.
The 20-year-old described it as a humbling but valuable experience.
"It was the first time I've ever really struggled," Walker said. "It was a little tough for me. You have your bumps in the road. There's still work that needs to be done. But you have to believe in yourself and you have to be confident that you're going to go out every day and be your best."
Walker also struck out 184 times in 168 career college games, though swings and misses can be expected from a power hitter.
Radcliff noted that the transition from aluminum to wood bats is one that every player has to make.
"You certainly put that into the equation," Radcliff said. "He's got strength. He's got directness to his swing. If he has bat presence and plate makeup, I think the transition to wood will be easier for him than others. What really applies is strength."
Most outlets, including MLB.com, ranked Walker among the top 50 prospects in this year's class. His pick by the Twins could be viewed down the road as a steal if Walker refines his game.
Finding a "true position" for Walker will be the primary developmental challenge, Radcliff said.
"First base, right field, left field -- he's some sort of corner player," Radcliff said. "He can run for a big kid. I think we want to start off trying to apply all of his abilities and tools. I think we're going to start off for sure in the corner outfield and see how it goes."
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.