July 20 was not a day that Jamar Walton likes to remember. It was the day the Kansas City Royals released the outfielder from Advanced-A Wilmington.
The former fourth-round selection had struggled to a .200 batting average in 59 games with the Blue Rocks.
Then in mid-August the Nationals were in need of outfield depth. Chris Curran, Nick Moresi and Edgardo Baez had all helped out in the outfield. Walton added another clutch bat and strong defense to keep the P-Nats rolling.
The 6'4", 195-pound Walton was thrilled to get the call. Not only did it continue his dream of making it to the majors, but he also got the opportunity to play close to his home in southern Virginia.
"I don't want to sound selfish," says Walton. "But I felt I had a point to prove after I got released (by the Royals). I was thrilled the Nationals signed me. This is where I wanted to be. It is so close to home. It is the big league club close to my home. I want to go out and play my game and help this team win."
Walton hails from Emporia, VA, and was a standout multi-sport athlete for Greensville County high school. According to the Washington Post, his Greensville County basketball team beat teams like Loudon Valley in the Double-A state basketball tournament back in 2004.
In his short time in Woodbridge to end the regular season, he showed how happy he was to be with the Nationals. Walton batted .302 in 16 games for the P-Nats and with 3 doubles, a triple, a homer and 11 RBI.
Last night in Game Two of the League championship series, Walton got a hold of a Dylan Axelrod pitch and crushed a two-run homer, providing the first offense and first lead of the Mills Cup for the Nationals.
"It feels good to get the split here in Winston-Salem," says Walton.
"The next three are at our house. That is a little advantage."
All the Nats need to do is win two of those games to secure their second Carolina League title in three seasons.
Game three is set for tomorrow night at Pfitzner Stadium. Jimmy Barthmaier gets the call to the bump.