"It's a short season, so every game really counts," Walker said after the Scorpions' (13-7) victory. "Just try to take it one day at a time, but we got a win tonight and we'll try to keep it going."
After drawing a walk in the second inning, Walker hit an RBI single in his second plate appearance against Rafters starter Yoan Lopez, taking a 2-2 pitch back up the middle to cut Salt River's lead to 3-2. In the bottom of the sixth, he delivered what turned out to be the game-winning hit as he laced a bases-clearing double into the left-center-field gap.
"I wanted to make sure I got a pitch up in the zone -- a good pitch to hit," he said, reflecting on the at-bat. "The bases were loaded and he wasn't going to try to pitch around me, so I made sure I didn't swing at his pitch and got something I could handle. Luckily, I split a gap with it.
"I take pride in driving in runs," he continued. "I definitely buckle down when I have guys [on base]. I try to get a hit every time, but I really take pride in trying to get guys in."
Walker has tallied multiple hits in five of his last eight games for the Scorpions, batting .387 with three home runs, two doubles, six runs scored and 12 RBIs in that span. Overall, he's hitting .306 with a 1.047 OPS and four home runs through 13 games in the Fall League.
Selected by Minnesota in the third round of the 2012 Draft out of Jacksonville University, Walker spent the entire 2015 season at Double-A Chattanooga, where he batted .239/.309/.498 in 133 games. The 24-year-old outfielder paced the Southern League with 31 home runs -- the third-highest total in the Minor Leagues -- 106 RBIs and 250 total bases. Walker's season-long success also helped the Lookouts capture their first Southern League title since 1988.
Now, he's building on his impressive regular season in the Fall League. "It's a good opportunity to come out here and show everybody what I can do," said the 6-foot-4, 225-pound outfielder. "I'm just trying to have quality at-bats and play the game hard."
Lopez, the D-backs' No. 5 prospect, pitched well in a no-decision for Salt River, allowing two earned runs on six hits over five innings. The 22-year-old right-hander issued three walks and struck out a season-high six batters in the outing, although only 46 of his 80 pitches went for strikes. After struggling at the outset of the Fall League, Lopez has now completed five innings in back-to-back starts for the Rafters.
Lopez struggled to command his fastball but maintained velocity over the course of the game, sitting 92-94 mph. Meanwhile, the right-hander's breaking ball was the best it's been this fall, thrown at 78-83 mph with short, late bite. More importantly, Lopez generated 10 whiffs with the pitch -- something he was unable to do in previous starts.
After a tough game on Thursday night, Rockies No. 8 prospect Raimel Tapia bounced back on Friday to go 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored for Salt River. Blue Jays No. 7 prospect Rowdy Tellez also collected two hits in the contest, while fellow Toronto farmhand Emilio Guerrero went 1-for-4 with two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
Scottsdale had four players (including Walker) collect multiple hits in the game. Indians No. 2 prospect (No. 35 overall) Clint Frazier singled in his first two at-bats as part of a 2-for-4 performance to improve his Fall League average to .328.
First baseman Dominic Ficociello, a product of the Tigers' system, went 2-for-3 with a ringing double to right-center field and also scored a pair of runs, while Giants No. 18 prospect Austin Slater, who batted fourth for the Scorpions on Friday night, went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a run scored.
Salt River and Scottsdale will square off again on Monday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium.