Grading the Prospect: Did The Rangers’ “Steele” Walker In The Nomar Mazara Trade?

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It’s no secret that the Chicago White Sox have a strong farm system, and they used a piece of it to roll the dice on a breakout from Nomar Mazara.  The price was 2018 second round pick Steele Walker, a 23-year old outfielder who spent time at two different levels of Single-A last season:

  • Single-A (74 AB) – .365, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 6 R, 4 SB
  • High-A (383 AB) – .269, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 59 R, 9 SB

Walker is viewed as a solid, high-floor prospect that doesn’t necessarily have the ceiling of one of the elite.  There is value across the board, though he isn’t going to blow you away in any category:

Power

He added 36 doubles and 5 triples, showing that there’s more Walker can tap into as he learns/matures.  At the same time there could be limits to his upside, given this interesting note courtesy of Baseball America:

Walker’s power, which is potentially above-average, shows up mostly to the pull side—all but two of his 15 career homers are to right field. Evaluators would like to see him spread his extra-base hits around more often before they are confident that he’ll reach his ceiling. 

Average

Walker was solid, both in terms of strikeouts and walks in his first full season of professional baseball:

  • Strikeouts – 14.8%
  • Walks – 9.5%

An 8.2% SwStr% is a solid mark, and helps to support the numbers.  It will be interesting to see if he can translate these numbers against more advanced pitchers, given his age and the level of competition.

Speed

Walker’s speed may not blow you away, but he’s solid and just needs to become a little bit more efficient (he went 13-for-20 in ’19).  He’s not likely to develop into a 30 SB threat, but 8-12 annually (and maybe a little bit more) isn’t hard to believe.

Walker has the potential to develop into a 20/10 type outfielder annually, and do it with a solid average.  It will be interesting to see how he develops in his new organization, though he’s a good prospect that should start to get more respect now that he’s out of the shadows of Texas’ deep system.

Current Grade – B-
Upside Grade – B/B+

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball America

2 COMMENTS

  1. You could flip this question and ask of the Sox stole Mazara. It wasn’t long ago people were asking if he could be a future stud/mvp type. And he is still only 24 years old with over 3 years mlb experience. I’d rather roll the dice on Mazara, as the upside still exists for him and his ceiling is much greater.

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