COLIN WALSH (INF)
Profile: Selected from Oakland in December’s Rule 5 Draft, Walsh was originally a 13th round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Stanford in 2010. He saw action at three different levels after signing in 2010, then spent 2011 at Low-A Quad Cities, where he hit .239 in 69 games.
Walsh returned to Quad Cities in 2012 and enjoyed a breakout campaign in the Midwest League, hitting .314 with 16 home runs and earning a roster spot representing the Cardinals in the Arizona Fall League following the season.
He split 2013 between High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield, hitting a combined .252 and reaching base at a .356 clip. Despite reaching Double-A at age 23, Walsh was released by the Cardinals following spring training in 2014.
The switch-hitting Walsh latched on with the Oakland A’s following his release and saw action at three different levels in their organization in 2014, advancing as high as Triple-A Sacramento. He spent all of last season at Double-A Midland, where he hit .302 with 13 home runs in 134 games for the RockHounds.
Strengths: A switch-hitting infielder, the biggest plus in Walsh’s favor is his ability to get on base. Over the course of his six minor league seasons, Walsh has posted a .395 on base percentage and he showed this spring that those skills may translate to the big league level as he led Milwaukee in walks during Cactus League play. He also offers Craig Counsell and his staff some defensive versatility, having seen significant time at second base, third base and in left field during his minor league career.
Weaknesses: Walsh’s defense still needs improvement, especially at third base where he struggled some this spring. He’s also pretty raw when it comes to facing more advanced competition, having only played 47 games above Double-A in his career and only time will tell if he’ll be able to handle the bat enough against big league pitching to make any kind of an impact.
Future: The Brewers will need to keep Walsh on their roster all season long in order to retain his services, otherwise he will need to be offered back to Oakland. The team isn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot however, and so it’s not crazy to think Walsh might last the season. He’ll serve mainly as a pinch-hitter while occasionally spelling Scooter Gennett at second base and Aaron Hill at third. It’s a role the 26-year-old could thrive in as his patient approach and ability to work deep into counts may make him one of Counsell’s go-to guys in the later innings of ballgames. He doesn’t project as an everyday starter, but a switch-hitter with a patient approach and defensive versatility can still carve out a nice big league career for himself.