Steele Walker is a junior outfielder who has progressed each season with the Sooners. He has raised his batting average from .290 his freshman year to .355 this year. Walker has also steadily increased his power from a .414 slugging percentage as a freshman to .608 as a junior. A few questions may still remain about Walker’s game, but there’s no denying he has been impressive throughout college.
Steele Walker 2018 MLB Draft Profile
Walker possesses intriguing power. He has 22 home runs and 45 doubles in his career and has improved his home run totals from three as a freshman to 11 as a junior. The question executives will have to figure out is whether Walker has tapped into all of his power or if he can still develop more at the next level. Either way, a career .524 slugging percentage in Division I baseball is certainly impressive.
Along with his power, Walker demonstrates a selective eye at the plate. This has helped his OBP improve every season, and he holds a .409 career OBP. Walker has above average walk and strikeout rates with 73 walks and 104 strikeouts in his career with the Sooners. His patience allows him to wait for the pitches he can hit and hit for power, but it still is unknown how these rates would translate at the next level against better pitching.
One knock against Walker is he does not have prototypical size for a power-hitting corner outfielder. While Walker’s 5-foot-11, 190 pound frame is very similar to Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, Benintendi’s numbers at Arkansas outweigh those put up by Walker. Benintendi was a 20 home run-20 steal performer with the Razorbacks in 2015 while Walker has just 13 steals in his career at Oklahoma. While fans will point to current MLB players Ozzie Albies and Jose Altuve as proof that size isn’t everything when it comes to power, one still has to wonder how much untapped power – if any – remains in Walker.
Another area of concern for Walker is his lack of elite speed. While he is not exactly slow, Walker will likely never be a huge threat on the basepaths. Offensively, Walker will have to trust and rely on his patience at the plate and what power he does have. If his power progresses and his patience remains, Walker can become a solid outfielder. He simply will not have the speed to fall back on if his bat struggles.
At the end of the day, Walker is a solid MLB prospect with an impressive track record in college. He has shown an ability to get better each season, and his power has improved each year. While it is still unknown how that power will play at the next level, Walker’s patience at the plate should help him make the jump. Fangraphs has Walker at No. 45 on their 2018 MLB Draft Rankings which means he could go early in the second round or possibly even in the compensatory or competitive balance rounds at the end of the first.
In terms of physical makeup, Walker and Benintendi are a very close comparison. The difference is Benintendi’s speed. He already has one MLB season with 20 steals while Walker will likely never approach that number. It could be argued that Benintendi’s power was also more developed coming out of college, but Walker certainly has a chance to develop that aspect of his game into something special.
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