A 5th round pick out of small Gardner-Webb University, Jeremy Walker was mostly deployed as a starting pitcher during his first 3 years with the Braves organization. He was also, to put it mildly, largely forgettable as he gave up tons of hits, rarely struck too many guys out, and fielded like his hair was on fire (seriously, the man posted sub-800 fielding percentages in consecutive years). Of course, as with most prospects, there were also some nice parts to his game — he had ungodly good ground-ball rates at every stop in the minors and rarely walked anybody. As a rangy right-hander with decent deception in his delivery, a move to the bullpen seemed fated coming into 2019.
What does he do?
Fangraphs lists his pitches as Fastball 55/55 Slider 45/50 Curve 45/50 Change 40/45 Command 45/45. Out of the pen, all of his pitches played up big time and he exhibited 60/65 command.
How did 2019 go?
Everything clicked this year. Walker started the year as an afterthought in the Mississippi bullpen and quickly worked his way into more important innings (he was paired with Ian Anderson for much of the season). After dominating Mississippi he got moved up to AAA where he got a little bit better. He was added to the 40 man and got a September call up to end the year. In Atlanta he had the usual new-guy jitters but still put up a 1.93 era/3.21 fip in 6 appearances.
One of Walker’s issues with starting was that his change sucked rocks. He has largely abandoned it as a reliever and in his MLB appearances he essentially went with just the fastball and the curve.
What does the future hold?
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in AAA to start the year as he only got 22 innings at that level last season. ZIPS sees him as a mid-3’s ERA type guy going forward so it also would be no great shock if he had a wonderful spring and put up great numbers from the get-go. Long term he looks a lot like Shane Greene which would be a wonderful result from the 139th pick in the draft.