The Pirates were planning on getting Neil Walker some work in at third base last season, but it took the 11th overall pick in 2004 longer to recover from offseason wrist surgery than expected.
Now that move is official, as Walker began taking ground balls in Bradenton, Fla., today.
The club kept Walker behind the plate for 2006, a season in which the 21-year-old was promoted to Double-A after hitting .284/.345/.403 in 264 at-bats at high Class A Lynchburg.
A stomach virus cut the end of Walker’s season short, causing him to lose nearly 15 pounds and miss the Eastern League playoffs.
At this point, Walker’s bat is more advanced than his receiving skills, and the Pirates would like him to move as quickly as possible.
He’s going to have to learn on the fly, as Walker is expected to be the everyday third baseman at Double-A Altoona this season.
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