White Sox's Walker Steady As He Goes

Outfielder pleases organization with progress





CHICAGO—Between the power surge of Trayce Thompson and the instant success of 2012 first-round pick Courtney Hawkins, Keenyn Walker pleased the White Sox player-development department with his steady production.

Walker hit .282/.395/.387 at low Class A Kannapolis and .238/.345/.364 after a late-season promotion to high Class A Winston-Salem. More impressive was the way the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Walker continued to excel despite playing with injuries. He had an injured left (non-throwing) shoulder, and a knee that required surgery following the completion of the Carolina League playoffs.

"He played through some adversity at the end of spring training and toward the end of the season," farm director Buddy Bell said. "He played well after the injury and was determined to get through the playoffs. We like guys like that."

Walker, a 22-year-old switch-hitter, is expected to be ready for spring training and will continue to move through the system on the strength of his speed and switch-hitting ability. He stole 56 bases between his two Class A stops, but his biggest improvement came on defense.

"He did a great job in the outfield," Bell said. "His offense really took off. We worked on some things mechanically. His swing is a little more level and not as big. He's not a guy who hits the ball on the ground. We want him to hit line drives. He has the potential to be a gap hitter."

A supplemental first-round pick in 2009 uout of Central Arizona JC, Walker batted a combined .267 this season, but his .378 on-base percentage suggests he could be a productive leadoff hitter. It's an asset general manager Ken Williams took into consideration when he elevated Jared Mitchell to Triple-A Charlotte because of his .368 on-base percentage at Double-A Birmingham despite batting only .240.

In order to do that, Walker will need to cut down on his strikeouts. While he walked 74 times in 2012, he also struck out 143 times.

CHI-LITES

• The Sox were considering whether to make righthander Chris Bassitt a full-time starter. Bassitt, 23, went 1-2, 2.98 in 28 relief appearances for Winston-Salem, and was 4-2, 4.25 in 10 starts. He was working on an offspeed pitch during instructional league to help the transition from the bullpen.

• The Sox were expected to make minor changes in their player-development department but hadn't made a formal announcement by early October.