Dodgers' Walker turns AFL hitting campaign around

November 12th, 2018

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It has been a trying Arizona Fall League season at times for Jared Walker, but the Dodgers first baseman is finishing on a positive note. He continued his surge Monday, snapping a tie with a two-run double in the sixth inning to give the Glendale Desert Dogs a 4-2 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox.
Walker homered in his first AFL game but then fell into a 2-for-23 tailspin that included 15 strikeouts. He has tried to adopt a more patient approach and flourished since, batting .286/.407/.619 in his last six contests.
"It's more about trying to put the ball in play a little more, cutting down with two strikes, trying to take the little base hit over the shortstop's head, something simple like that," Walker said. "It's been better the last two weeks, starting out was a little slow, but I feel like it's picking up."
Walker, 22, has spent only a half-season at the high Class A level, so Fall League pitching is easily the most advanced he has faced. He needed time to adapt and admitted it was frustrating at first.
"The mental side was all out, I couldn't figure it out," Walker said. "It just took a couple words from some people to get me in a good direction mentally. That's all it took. It wasn't my talent. It was just being mentally weak at times, but I picked it back up."
A fifth-round pick from a Georgia high school in 2014, Walker has some of the best raw power in the Dodgers system. But he also spent his first two years as a pro in Rookie ball and totaled just 22 home runs in his first four seasons.
Walker broke out this year, getting more comfortable with his left-handed swing and swatting 25 homers while batting .255/.365/.545 between two Class A stops. He also saw regular action at second and third base, though he has played solely at first base for Glendale. 
Mesa (13-13-1) lost an opportunity to close within a half-game of the Salt River Rafters in the East Division race. With three games remaining, any combination of two Rafters wins or Solar Sox losses will give Salt River the title. Glendale improved to 11-16 after losing its first eight games of the AFL season.