It is starting to look like former top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker is never going to live up to the hype that enveloped him while coming up the team’s minor league system. Classified as a power pitcher who was capable of major strikeout totals, Walker has battled ongoing shoulder trouble that seem to have taken some bite out of his stuff since arriving in Seattle. In 134.1 innings last season, Walker put up a 4.22 ERA but that number should have been even worse since he received a lot of BABIP luck at .267. When you adjust Walker’s ERA based on the lucky BABIP, his FIP shoots up to 4.99 which is waiver wire territory. Even more bothersome is the fact that despite calling a spacious ballpark home in Safeco Field, Walker’s HR/9 rate of 1.81 was among the highest in all of baseball. On the plus side, Walker is still very young at the age of 24 and his 7.97 K/9 has some room to grow if his shoulder stays healthy. We have seen plenty of post-hype sleepers like this eventually break through and so Walker should be given another chance as an SP 5 that could outperform his draft slot by a decent margin if all breaks right. Keep in mind though that his trade from Seattle to Arizona puts him in a big power park which makes his already high home run rate a major concern.
2017 PROJECTION: 12-10 3.90 ERA 1.23 WHIP 152 K