With no real games to cover, spring training reporters often fall for the low-hanging fruit of “This guy reworked his swing!” or “So-and-so has a brand-new delivery!” to avoid having to write about pitcher fielding drills. (And who can blame them?)
I’ve asked around about some of these players, and here are some notes from scouts, coaches and executives on a few players who showed up to spring training with something substantially different about their mechanics or approaches. Bear in mind that I have yet to see any of these changes in person.
Walker’s mechanics have changed several times since his breakout year in low-A in 2011, when he punched out 113 with a 2.89 ERA in 96.2 innings as an 18-year-old just a year out of high school. His repertoire has changed too, as he had a big curveball in high school that disappeared somewhere between there and the majors, and he has messed with a slider and cutter while his changeup has morphed a few times.
The results have been consistently inconsistent, and everyone who sees the stuff and athleticism expects better results than Walker has delivered: a 4.41 ERA with 52 homers allowed in 304 innings the past two years -- all well below average given his home park.