Prospect Watching: Neil Walker and Brian Myrow

Walker returned to the Indy lineup after the All-Star Break, and struggled even more for the next two weeks. �Three hits on July 30th brought his average for July up to .190. �But those three hits got Walker going. �He had 3 more hits in each of his next two games, and went 14-for-30 in a 7-game hitting streak. �Walker continued on fire for the rest of the month, hitting .339 with 4 more home runs and 29 RBI. �That gave him a .264 average for the season, with 31 doubles, 14 homers, and 69 RBI. �He was named the Indians’ Player of the Month for August, and the season’s home run and RBI leader. �Never the tightest on plate discipline, Walker did manage a little higher walk rate in 2009 (26), and a little lower strikeout rate (60). �A switch-hitter, Walker hit about 50 points higher from the left side of the plate, despite being a natural right-hander. �Most of his homers and RBI came from the left.

Walker was promoted to Pittsburgh and made his major league debut on September 1st. �Over the rest of the season, he appeared in 17 games for the Pirates, and went 7-for-36 (.194) at the plate, while faring ok on defense.

Walker played winter ball with Los Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League. �He played in 34 games over about 6 weeks, starting off hot, then cooling down, then again heating up towards the end of his time in Venezuela. �He finished with a �.259 average, 9 doubles, 4 homers, and 16 RBI. �He also worked 17 walks, but struck out 24 times. �In spring training, Walker appeared in 11 games for the Pirates, mostly as a later-inning replacement. �He did well at the plate, going 5-for-15 with a homer and 2 RBI. �While his defense is ok, Walker’s bat is not major-league-ready. �He was optioned to AAA Indianapolis on March 23rd. �The problem for Walker is that Pedro Alvarez is also going to be in Indianapolis, and is going to be the heir-apparent at third base for the Pirates. �The current Pirates’ third baseman, Andy LaRoche, has already had to consider where on the diamond he’s going to have to move when Alvarez is ready. �So, where is Walker going to go? �He played his first game in the outfield a few days before being optioned down, and the Pirates have indicated that they want him to play outfield, second base, and maybe even first base while in Indianapolis. �What about a move back behind the plate? �That doesn’t seem likely at this point, since the Pirates are already well-stocked there too. �And, unless Walker starts hitting and hitting consistently, it isn’t going to matter where on the field he can play, because the Pirates won’t bother looking for a place to put him. �There is also a chance that, if the Pirates find they need to free up a spot on the 40-man roster in the week before the season begins, the 24-year-old Walker might be the unlucky one who gets DFA’ed and put on waivers.

img_1886Brian Myrow came to the Pirates’ organization in June 2009 from the White Sox’ AAA Charlotte affiliate. �The 33-year-old begtan his career in 1999 in Independent League ball, then was signed by the Yankees in 2001. �He spent time in the Yankee’s, Dodgers’, Red Sox’, Padres’, and White Sox’ organizations. �In 2005, he played in 19 major league games with the Dodgers, and he played in 33 games for the Padres over 2007-08. �For the past three seasons at the AAA level, Myrow hit very well and was at the top of the Pacific Coast League in OBP. �In 2007 with Portland, he hit .354 (.440 OBP) in 107 games with 13 homers and 73 RBI. �In 2008, again with Portland, he hit .314 (.451 OBP), with 12 home runs and 59 RBI. �Myrow began the 2009 season in Charlotte and hit .277 in 48 games, with 7 homers and 25 RBI. �After coming over to the Indians, he got back onto his usual AAA track: �he hit .320 in July, and .349 in August/September. �That gave him a .330 average (.448 OBP) for his time in Indy, and a .307 average for the season, as well as an International League-leading .417 OBP. �Myrow signed a minor league free-agent contract with the Pirates for 2010, and reported to major league camp as a non-roster invitee. �He appeared in 5 Grapefruit League games with the Pirates, but went 0-for-5 at the plate. �He was reassigned to minor league camp on May 23rd and is slated to return to the Indians. �He can play both first and third base, though he’s mainly been at first in recent years. �Third base is going to be crowded in Indianapolis. �If Steve Pearce is optioned to Indianapolis, that will cut into Myrow’s time on the field, but Myrow would also be a valuable designated hitter.