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Walker-led Dolphins look to
By Andrew Krause
years ago, Adam Brett Walker II (left) largely was overlooked by
professional scouts and college coaches alike.
Jacksonville junior enters this season as one of college
baseball’s most feared hitters, a preseason All-American and a
likely early-round selection in the Major League Draft.
is our centerpiece, our spotlight guy,” longtime Dolphins coach
Terry Alexander said. “He has big-leaguer written all over him.”
ETSU coach Tony Skole: “Adam Brett Walker will be the most
feared hitter in the A-Sun this year. He has great power to all
fields, but what really stands out is his athleticism. He can
defend, and he runs really well for a big man.
could be a guy who hits 20 home runs this year and also steals
20 bases. He has that kind of potential. Every game JU plays
this year, his name will be circled as the guy you just can’t
let beat you.”
who grew up in Milwaukee, comes from an athletically-gifted
family. His mother Glynis was a national champion high jumper at
Carthage College, and his father Adam briefly played with the
Minnesota Vikings. Former major leaguer Damion Easley is his
second cousin. Walker excelled in football, basketball and
baseball in high school. Like many other baseball players from
the Midwest and other cold-weather areas, Walker was largely
Montez, Jacksonville’s associate head coach and pitching coach,
was one of the astute coaches to pursue Walker.
who had experience recruiting a number of Midwestern states from
his days working under Norm DeBriyn at Arkansas, first came
across Walker at a tournament showcase in the summer of 2008
when he was a rising senior in high school. Montez saw Walker
catching but noticed his athleticism and versatility at first
and third base and right field as the tournament progressed.
Montez also noted how easy it was to fall in love with Walker’s
pure strength, raw power and surprising speed for a big guy as
he ran a 6.75 60-yard dash at 6-5 and 220 pounds.
has the best raw power that I’ve seen in my 21 years of
coaching,” Montez said.
Montez and Alexander admitted Walker was a bit raw and
unpolished – largely because of his cold-weather roots – but
were extremely confident that he would develop into an impact
player because of his personality, work ethic and ability to
a year younger than the other kids in his class,” Alexander
said. “He will only be 20 at the time of this year’s Draft.”
chose Jacksonville over Western Carolina, Louisville and Indiana
because he enjoyed the small-school atmosphere and felt that the
coaching would help him cultivate his skills. He made his
presence felt almost immediately as an outfielder, third
baseman, first baseman and designated hitter. Offensively, he
belted 16 homers and was a second-team, all-conference
sophomore, Walker got even better. He led the Atlantic Sun
Conference in average (.409), hits (99) and doubles (23) and
added 13 homers and 75 RBI. He was named the A-Sun player of the
year and was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and Dick
sophomore year, he started recognizing the breaking ball better
and became more disciplined at the plate,” Montez said. “This
season, we want him to work more on his patience and realize
that he will be pitched around even more frequently.”
the Dolphins (37-24 in 2011) were eliminated from the
Gainesville Regional after a couple of hard-fought losses to the
University of Miami, Walker spent the summer playing in the Cape
Cod League. Walker showed flashes but struggled to the tune of
.216/4/17 while playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The
experience, he said, helped him learn to make the necessary
adjustments to play at the next level.
enjoyed the Cape Cod experience,” Walker said. “It gave me an
opportunity to play with and against some of the top players in
the country on a daily basis.”
Walker, Montez and Alexander all mentioned that consistency will
be a key factor for the 2012 season. Walker hopes to stay within
himself and focus on improving every day.
just want to help the team in any way possible this year,”
Walker said. “I want to have a good season, but at the same
time, I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself.”
team-first mentality isn’t for show, and it doesn’t go
isn’t a single player that doesn’t love him,” Alexander said.
“He is a model person and does what he’s supposed to do.”
again will be called on to do a little bit of everything. That
includes leading a Dolphins team that features a little more
experience and depth than last year’s Regional team. Including
Walker, five of the team’s top six hitters return in Dan
Gulbransen (.370/6/52/.491 OBA), Taylor Ratliff (.330/1/24/25
SB), Kevin Lehane (.318/8/43) and Jonathan Murphy (.312/5/49).
And two starters – Steve Eagerton (9-0, 4.09 ERA) and Tony
Mollica (3-4, 3.96, .206 BAA) – and closer/DH Chris Anderson
(4-2, 3.91, 11 saves) also are back.
bit will be needed in the wide-open A-Sun.
Jacksonville has Walker, a guy once desired by few now coveted
hasn’t reached the tip of the iceberg yet,” Montez said. “His
best years are ahead of him.”
(photos courtesy of Jacksonville
Media Relations Office)