We have a feeling that you will hear the best shape of his career line from Pittsburgh Pirates leadership a few times this spring. Neil Walker just happens to be the first. Other candidates will be Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Travis Snider and hell, we think Frank Coonelly is probably there too.
Neal Huntington broke the seal today as he addressed numerous topics during his interview with The Fan yesterday. The Bucs Senior VP and General Manager dropped the bombshell that Neil Walker is probably in the best shape of his career. If you read this site regularly you knew it was coming–when we talked with Walker in December Team RumBunter mentioned to you that he looked like an MMA fighter.
The Bucs GM was on a roll and spread the love around as he praised Gerrit Cole, addressed the poor effort in controlling the running game a season ago and how the team would fix it, spoke highly of Wandy Rodriguez as well as the teams starting pitching, and the ability that new closer Jason Grilli showed last season to get through the opponents 3-4-5 hitters effectively.
James McDonald was discussed including all of the success he has had in the past, but Huntington said physical issues led to mental breakdowns in 2012. We never heard much about the specific physical issues during the season, but it was rather obvious that JMac wasn’t quite right on the mound.
In Gerrit Cole’s second Triple-A outing, Huntington said hitters showed the big right hander that they could hit his 100 miles per hour stuff. But the Bucs GM also praised the right hander and said
He has as good of stuff as we have anywhere.
For him to reach Triple A in his first professional season is a good sign for him, we’re looking forward to bringing him up when we feel like he’s ready to go. The worst thing we can do to a young player is rush him to the big leagues. We’ve got to make sure we remain patient in our development process.”
Ron Cook asked Huntington how hard it is to be patient and mentioned that callers say if Stephen Strasburg was in the Pirates system he would still be in Double-A.
Huntington said Strasburg showed the world “he was ready to come up. But we want to be sure when we call our guys up that we put them in the position to be succesful.”
The best words we heard Huntington say were late in the interview:
Walker worked hard through rehab…..and…
Most importantly he’s (Walker) probably in the best shape of his career. We are looking forward to a big year from Walker.
Yeh, we are too.