Pirates Prospect Interview: Neil Walker

Third baseman Neil Walker was the 2008 Indianapolis Indians Most Valuable Player after hitting .242 with a team-high 16 homers, seven triples and 80 RBI. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko spoke with Walker after the minor league season.

GVB-- You finished the season strong at Indianapolis, were you pleased with your season?

NW-- Yeah, no matter what the case is - it's always nice to finish strong and have a good taste in your mouth going into the off season and that was definitely the case this year and that's something to have a little confidence in going into the off season and then into Spring Training next year.

GVB-- Obviously still some things that need to be worked on – what are the areas that you're looking to improve in?

NW-- Just some minor things I need to work on – nothing major, shoring up my approach at the plate. I had a solid year from both sides plate and there are some minor things that I'm going to work on in the off season. I'm going to do a lot of tee work and just work on getting myself into a good position to hit.

GVB-- Everybody mentions consistency – is that something that needs to improve?

NW-- Yeah, to be honest I've been very, very consistent in my career and I started off slow this year and I think mentally that I did some things that normally I wouldn't do. That's never been a factor with me I've always been consistent and I had a little hiccup this year and it's something to work on into next season. I don't see what happened last year – happening next season in certain aspects of my game.

GVB-- You've made strides defensively – are you happy with your progress in that area?

NW-- I think the most important thing was my confidence in the infield and from the previous year it was 180 degrees better and even from the beginning of the season this year until the end of the season there were huge strides, but I think the biggest thing was mentally and just staying focused and being where I'm supposed to be and knowing the hitters.

GVB-- You came up for a visit to the big leagues for a few days in September, but were you disappointed that you weren't a September call-up?

NW-- Obviously I was disappointed, but that will get me focused for the off season and get me working in the off season and get me ready to go in the spring.

GVB-- What about the off season – what are your plans?

NW-- It's going to be a good long off season of working out and getting ready both physically and mentally – I think it's going to be a big off season for me and a big spring.

GVB-- They traded for Andy LaRoche and drafted Pedro Alvarez at third base – so there's competition at third – are you ready for that?

NW-- I see this as a good opportunity to prove myself and regardless of how many guys are at the same position I am – I'm going to go out in the spring as if it's my job to win and my job to lose. I just hope to get to the big leagues and help this team win soon.

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