White Sox Believe In Walker's Athleticism, Instincts





CHICAGO—After watching 23 pitchers selected among the first 46 players in a pitching-rich draft, White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann believed switch-hitting outfielder Keenyn Walker was too attractive to pass up with the 47th overall pick.

"He's been very successful," Laumann said of Walker, 20, who batted .402 with 11 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 50 RBIs, 76 runs and 65 stolen bases in 63 games for Central Arizona JC. "He is a high-ceiling athlete. Unlike some high-ceiling athletes, this kid really has a feel for playing the game."

Laumann was encouraged that Walker excelled in a league that used wood bats and has the potential to be a top-of-the-order hitter.

"Our guys were excited about his athleticism," Laumann said. "But at the same time, he's a guy that can play the game as well. He's proven that over the past couple of years."

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Walker was drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 2009 draft and by Philadelphia in the 38th round in 2010. He also excelled in football at Judge Memorial High in Salt Lake City and was recruited by Boise State and several Pacific-10 Conference schools as a safety.

Walker signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Utah, but Laumann is confident the White Sox will sign him.

"We had our typical interviews, and our scouts got in (his) house," Laumann said. "I've spoken with the family, and we are confident we will have a deal done with him.

"He's probably 2-2 1/2 years away (from reaching the majors), if he progresses like we think he is," Laumann said. "We've got comparisons of Carlos Beltran and Devon White. He's a very athletic kid who played football and has a loose gait. He can really run and has good instincts."

Walker was ranked as the 92nd best prospect by Baseball America, thanks to a breakout year. The Sox are banking that this is the start of Walker's ascent as a top-notch baseball player.

Laumann's main concern is that Walker makes contact with more consistency.

"Especially a guy who can really, really run," Laumann said. "He's a plus, plus runner and a good defender. He has arm strength, and he actually showed some pop for a wood bat. And this kid hit a ton of extra base hits.

"Like I said, the impressive thing if you are just an athlete that don't know how to play the game, you won't steal 65 of 68 bases in a high level juco program. There are some instincts to play the game as well."

Chi-lites

• Former Sox great Robin Ventura rejoined the organization as a special advisor to player development director Buddy Bell and will assist Bell in all phases of player development.

• Paul Burnside was named the South Atlantic League pitcher of the week that ended June 5. Burnside, a 39th round pick in 2009, was 2-0 with 19 strikeouts and one walk in 14 1/3 innings for low Class A Kannapolis.