Nov 20, 2013, 12:04 PM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 24
How acquired: Trade with Diamondbacks, July 2011
MLB service time: 27 days
2013 salary+bonuses: $495,900
Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2017, free agent in 2020
2013 Stats: 8 G, 9 PA, 8 AB, 2 R, 3 H, RBI, BB, .375 BA, 1.069 OPS, 191 OPS+, 0.2 WAR
2013 analysis: Most of Zach Walters’ 2013 season took place at Triple-A Syracuse where he made a drastic improvement in his power numbers. After hitting 25 home runs combined through his first three years in the minor leagues, Walters exploded for 29 last season to tie the International League high for 2013. The power surge raised his big league stock pretty quickly and earned him a September call-up to Washington. Davey Johnson framed it at the time as a reward for his season with the Chiefs, but Walters surely wants more.
Walters, 24, appeared in only eight games with the Nats and started just one, the team’s final outing of the year. In the short window he had, however, Walters experienced relative success. He got a hit in his first at-bat, breaking up rookie Jose Fernandez’ no-hit bid in the sixth inning on Sept. 6. He only saw eight more plate appearances and added a pair of hits including one triple.
2014 outlook: Walters wasn’t afforded enough time in the majors last year to produce a sample size to draw from, which could work against his chances to make the team out of spring training next year. The Nats were burned by an inexperienced bench and Walters only has minor league accolades to draw from. He’s certainly got the talent to justify a roster spot, especially given he bats switch, but it could be bad timing.
The Nats will likely see if he can recreate his 2013 season in the early goings at Triple-A this year and go from there. If he comes out putting up similar power numbers, he could really be an asset. The Nats could bring him up to boost their bench, use him as a trade chip (maybe even before the season starts) or line him up for a starting job in the future. With Adam LaRoche’s contract set to expire after 2014, and Anthony Rendon’s apparent position flexibility, the Nats’ infield could be in flux this time next year. Walters could find his way into that mix if the Nats decide to promote from within.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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