Future Looks Bright For Blake Walston
The Diamondbacks’ five-player contingent in this year’s Top 100 Prospects does not include a pitcher. If there’s one that club executives are most optimistic could be there next year, it’s 18-year-old lefthander Blake Walston.
Walston, the 26th overall pick in 2019, is new to the organization, but the D-backs already have seen improvements in his stuff and physicality.
"It was kind of what we were hoping for, but it happened even faster than we expected,” farm director Josh Barfield said. "Knowing there’s room for more growth in there makes him really, really interesting.”
After signing last summer, Walston already was touching the mid-90s. He also added weight, going from about 170 pounds to 197 during instructional league in January. He said his goal is to be at about 205 pounds.
"I think if I get bigger and stronger and gain some more weight,” Walston said, "I’ll have more velocity on my fastball and my other pitches.”
He said his focus during instructs has been on trying to get all of his pitches coming from the same release point.
"The fastball has its own arm slot, the changeup is a little lower and the curveball is a little higher,” he said. "If I can figure out how to put all of it together, I think I’ll be effective.”
Waltson also starred as quarterback at New Hanover High in Wilmington, N.C., and his athleticism was part of what drew Arizona. Last year marked his first fall away from football in years. He missed the game, he said, and watching his older brother Garrett play collegiately at North Carolina only made him miss it more.
"I thought about it,” he said of playing college football. "I had an opportunity from a couple of schools. But I just decided baseball is probably a little easier on the body.”
Walston is expected to open the season in extended spring training before possibly making his way to low Class A Kane County. He said his goal is to finish the season at high Class A Visalia.
"If I do what I’m capable of, I think all of it will fall into place," Walston said.