The Phillies are hosting the cross state Pirates for a for game set this week. This seems an appropriate time to add the Bucos to our Playoff Contenders Preview feature. The player that we are looking at today is Birthday Boy Neil Walker.
The Pirates picked Walker with the 11th overall pick of the 2004 draft. Walker was a standout from a Pittsburgh area high school. I am sure this has put additional pressure on him especially early in his career when the Pirates were struggling towards respectability.
Walker was drafted as a catcher but the Pirates, perhaps in an effort to get him to the majors quicker, moved him to second base. I think this may have been a disservice to the player, but it may have been necessary for the organizaiton at the time.
While he has never had an outstanding season, Neil Walker has been steady. 2014 looks to be his best season to this point. He has posted a career high 19 homers, and currently has Career highs in both On Base Pct and slugging.
Walker turns 29 today which means he will have one of what I consider a players prime years (agewise) (29-32) behind him. If the Pirates are to hang onto Walker I would think they would like to get a bit more out of his prime seasons then they have gotten from him in his first five seasons.
Bowman Futures Game Inserts
The full name of the set is Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Baseball. Add to that the Insert name of Futures Game Prospects Set and you have a mouthful. I have chosen to abbreviate both handles coming up with Bowman Draft for the set and Futures Game Prospects for the insert. That is still about 8 words too long, but it will need to do.
In 2006 the Insert set featured 45 cards of Futures Game participants. The game was hosted by the Pirates that summer and was likely one of the first times that Neil Walker appeared in a professional game at PNC park. The Phillies sent two players to the game Gio Gonzalez and Carlos Carrasco, Other notables included in the 2006 Set are Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Homer Bailey, Alex Gordon, Stephen Drew, Ryan Braun, and the late Nick Adenhardt.
Sources & Links
2014 Playoff Contenders