SARASOTA, Fla. – For Christian Walker, a regular spot in the major leagues is only a few steps away.
The 23-year-old first baseman already had a six-game stint with the Baltimore Orioles last season.
“It was amazing. It was awesome. It’s a dream come true,” Walker said. “I played my whole life and I worked out my whole life to accomplish that goal. I did and it’s been great, but I’m not finished yet.”
If Walker’s recent production is any indication, he’s just getting started. In 139 minor-league games split between the Double-A Bowie Baysox and the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, Walker hit .288/.357/.489 with 26 home runs and 96 RBI.
That successful season was capped off by a September call-up and his first career home run just two days after being promoted.
“Luckily the family that caught it in the stands were willing enough to give it back to me so I met up with them after the game and signed a few other things for them and traded for the ball,” Walker said.
Though Walker would soon be sent back to the minors, the experience would prove to be invaluable especially since it was for a contending team. At the time, the Orioles were in the midst of challenging for their first division title since 1997.
“I was pretty focused on what was going on as far as making sure I had everything under control that I need to worry about,” Walker said when asked about the pressures of contributing to a heated playoff chase. “It was a great energy in the clubhouse. A lot of winning, a lot of laughs, a lot of good times. I think as far as times to come up, that was definitely a great learning experience.”
A fourth-round pick in 2012 out of the University of South Carolina, Walker made it to the majors just two years after being drafted.
Nevertheless, he preaches patience for those looking to follow his example.
“Really master what your role is because when it comes time to be in the big leagues they want to win games and you can be there for a reason,” Walker said. “They want you to play a role. Really focus in on that and become good at that.”
All that is left is for Walker to secure a permanent spot on the Orioles, an opportunity he has long prepared for.
“I’ve been around on the road for a while, living out of a suitcase for the past couple of years,” Walker said. “But I’d love to make Baltimore my home.”
Follow me @AlexanderKLee