With last night’s unfortunate injury to Pedro Florimon the Phillies have gotten dangerously thin for infielders. To remedy the situation they have called up Mitch Walding. Walding is the Phillies 2011 Fifth Round pick out of High School in Stockton, CA.
I have a long love/hate relationship with Mitch Walding. Not personally, but as a prospect. I’m sure personally he’s a great guy and by all accounts a hard worker and good locker room presence, but as a prospect he drove me nuts for 4 years. He was my pet prospect, if you will, I followed and rooted hard for him and saw him play in person a number of times. He’d flash the tools that made him so exciting (above average defense and power), then he’d strike out 3 times or botch a play in the field and deflate the balloon on me again.
Then 2017 happened. He still struck out too much and had some contact issues, but suddenly all the power showed up and his defense was more consistent. I’d finally decided to move on to a new pet prospect and suddenly Walding was reaching some of his tools. I’ll be honest here and note I pretty much wrote 2017 off as the Reading effect and his power would back off in Lehigh Valley. It hasn’t Through 48 games Walding is slashing .271/.379/.484 with 7 HR and a 14.3 BB rate. His K rate is still too high at 29.7% and his BABiP suggests his AVG should be perhaps 10-15 points lower, but that’s still a big improvement over last year in that category.
Currently, I expect Kingery will continue to get most of the starts at Short with Valentin helping out. With Crawford already in Clearwater on rehab this might be a one week to 10 day call up for Walding, who might get a start or two at Third, but will likely be mostly a bench bat and defensive replacement option until Crawford comes up. I’m cautiously optimistic for the still just 25 year old Walding. He could grow into a nice Greg Dobb like career and I’m still going to hold out hope that he makes a few tweaks and reaches all his tools to become an everyday option at the hot corner.
EDIT: In a corresponding move to clear a spot for Walding on the 40 man roster, Jerad Eickhoff has been added to the 60-day disabled list retroactive to the beginning of the season.