Shortstop Zach Walters, acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Jason Marquis deal last summer, was a nice pickup for the Nationals and is expected to make another big step this season. The Nationals showed their confidence in the San Diego product by selecting him to play in the Arizona Fall League. This experience, coupled with a hot bat, will pay dividends for him this upcoming campaign.
Nationals infield coordinator Jeff Garber kept a watchful eye on Walters and sees various top-level tools and excellent potential.
"Tremendous, tremendous athletic ability," Garber said when asked about Walters. "He has great instincts and is a very aggressive player. I really like what I saw. He has some things to polish, to shore up. He has got the versatlity to move around the infield and change positions, as we saw in Arizona where he played third base. He played (both positions for Single-A Potomac) and showed a tremendous arm.
Walters showcased consistency and an excellent batting eye with a .300 average, 34 doubles, seven triples, nine homers and 67 RBIs in 127 games between Potomac and Single-A South Bend.
"He is very quick," Garber continued. "He has just got to polish up his arm strength. Just like Ian (Desmond) and (Danny) Espinosa, when you have that strong of an arm, you've got to learn when to dial it in and when to just make good, fundamental, firm throws with accuracy. There is a lot of upside in what he has and (he can play) a variety of positions."
This is what really gets my attention when I research for these blogs - when instructors get so amped up and emotional about prospects - and I got that feeling with the way Garber described Walters.
With all these attributes, I would expect Walters to take his game to Double-A Harrisburg in 2012. This depends on the health of Rick Hague and where Chris McConnell will play. Other shortstops that played for Potomac included Jose Lozada and Francisco Soriano. The Nationals also have second baseman Jeff Kobernus and third baseman Stephen King.