Winter Ball for Chris Walker

Outfield prospect Chris Walker will cap off an all-star season by heading to Guasave, Mexico for the start of winter ball.

Walker will be joined there by his teammate at Daytona this past season, Issmael Salas, the team's "everything" utility man. Walker batted .284 with 41 extra base hits, 57 RBI and 60 stolen bases as Daytona's leadoff hitter in 2005.

"I felt I improved in a lot of areas," Walker said. "I wish I could have helped the team win more games and get into the playoffs. Overall, it was a good year."

If there's one knock about Walker that many fans and scouts share (aside from the ridiculous notion that, at age 25, Walker is too old to be considered a true prospect) is that he strikes out too much for a leadoff hitter. Walker fanned 111 times in over 500 at-bats at Daytona, setting a new season high for strikeouts in his career while drawing 41 walks.

Cutting down on the strikeouts is something Walker also admits concern over. It will be one of the areas he'll work on south of the border this fall.

"If there's one complaint I have, it would be the strikeouts," Walker admitted. "I'll be focused on gaining more plate patience and also hitting breaking balls and not pulling off on a lot of them. You can always go to a different league and work on something."

"As a leadoff hitter, I know I'm not supposed to strike out much," Walker added. "There were times this year when I'd try to do too much and I'd swing at balls I shouldn't have. Come next year, wherever I'm at, the number will be cut down."

Entering the year, Walker set a small number of goals for himself. He wanted to score 100 runs, steal at least 70 bases and hit .300. He missed on all three accounts, but only by the smallest of margins.

He did achieve one goal, however.

"Making the all-star team for the second year in a row," Walker said. "To be able to accomplish that was something I could never ask for. I also got the nod to the post-season all-star team, which was something I'd never had before."

When he's not at the park, Walker prides himself on the importance of family and quality time with his loved ones. "I'm very family oriented," said the Alpharetta, Ga., resident. "This is my little sister's first year of high school. I've been watching her play varsity softball and just watching her grow up."

And the age factor?

"That's been the biggest knock against me," said Walker, a sixth-round 2002 draft pick from Georgia Southern. "I can't control my age, and I can't control where I'm playing. I only want people to look at what I do on the field."


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