For Josh Walker It's All About Execution
For a 37th-round pick, lefthander Josh Walker has already given the Mets more than they could have expected as he continues a climb through the farm system that began in 2017.
The 26-year-old University of New Haven product reached Triple-A Syracuse in late July. He dazzled in his second Triple-A East start, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Walker ended with a one-hitter over eight scoreless innings in which he faced the minimum number of batters.
“If you look at prospects, the younger the better, but from experience and probably him learning himself and being a professional, maybe this is just the right time for him,” Mets farm director Jeremy Barnes said.
“You never know with pitchers. The biggest thing for Josh this year: He’s not a top 100 prospect in the game with stuff, but he goes out and pitches and he locates and he executes and he’s a professional about his business.”
Barnes called the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Walker “an ode to an era before sticky stuff and 98s,” in reference to velocity. Walker survives with a fastball in the 90-91 mph range, compensating by changing speeds and pitch execution.
“You can be a stuff monster and not get results, but he’s going out there and getting results,” Barnes said. “That’s why he has moved for us.”
It’s a professional career in which Walker had to overcome a significant hurdle. Before his first start of the 2019 season he was broadsided by another driver in an automobile collision that left him with nerve damage in his pitching arm.
After having surgery, he pitched just six innings for the season. Then he lost 2020 to to the pandemic.
Walker began this season at High-A Brooklyn before jumping to Double-A Binghamton and then Syracuse. Overall he had gone 8-2 with a 3.13 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 15 walks through 77.2 innings.
The Mets, who already called up righthander Tylor Megill to their rotation this season, are paying attention.
“I’m not saying they have the same type of stuff or pedigree,” Barnes said. “But in this organization, Megill and then Walker have been the two most consistent pitchers we have had in this program this year."