Walters delivers game’s biggest hit against familiar foe

Baseball is a small world. With apologies to Kevin Bacon, call it six degrees of separation on the diamond.

Nationals pinch-hitter Zach Walters crushed a slider off of Marlins reliever Mike Dunn to give the Nats their first lead of Wednesday’s game. The Nationals end up winning 6-3 after trailing 3-0.

Dunn and Walters attended the same high school, Cimarron Memorial High School in Las Vegas.

“All I got to say is I won’t be invited to the Christmas party this year,” Walters told MASN’s Dan Kolko.

I’d guess Dunn will forgive him by then.

Did I say both players are from Las Vegas? I’m trying to think, is there another Nationals player from that city? Hmmm.

Oh, yes, none other than 21-year-old sensation Bryce Harper, who spent one year at the College of Southern Nevada.

Dunn also attended the College of Southern Nevada.

Oh, and Walters played baseball at the University of San Diego where he was a college roommate of another Nationals top prospect, lefty Sammy Solis.

Walters and the Buffalo Bisons’ Mauro Gomez led the Triple-A International League last season in home runs with 29 each. It was the most home runs in the Nats system last season, even the majors. Ryan Zimmerman had 26 homers for the parent club.

Walters has worked very hard to get to his shot and he displayed a very humble yet confident demeanor in his postgame interview with Kolko. Acquired in 2011 from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Jason Marquis trade, he played 30 games for high Single-A Potomac to finish out that season, hitting .293.

In 2012, he played 54 games with the P-Nats and was elevated to Double-A Harrisburg and then Triple-A Syracuse that same season. The jump of two levels in a span of 43 games exemplified the talent level Walters was capable of handling.

He then played 134 games with Syracuse in 2013 and got a September call-up with the Nationals to end the season, going 3-for-8.

On Wednesday, he hit the Nationals’ first pinch-hit home run of the season and his second round-tripper in as many big league at-bats. He is 2-for-4 in three games with two home runs with the Nats to start 2014, his slugging percentage is 2.000.

Walters, similar to Anthony Rendon, can hit and can play multiple positions on the diamond. As Jayson Werth told reporters about Walters after Wednesday’s game, “He’s got a chance”.

The Nationals have never had a season where guys like Blake Treinen, Walters, Sandy Leon, Steven Souza Jr., and even Aaron Barrett make this kind of impact in April. It is a crystal clear testament as to how far the system has come in the past seven seasons.

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