Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Close-Up of Jeff Walters

Not many baseball players get drafted five times. Jeff Walters is one of them. When the Mets drafted him in the seventh round in 2010, it was the highest he was drafted. In 2009, the Orioles drafted him in the 17th round. The lowest he was drafted was in the 47th round. That's where the Nationals drafted him in 2007.

Walters won't be drafted again: He's signed with the Mets.

After his 2010 season, it's surprising that the Mets drafted him so high --  but then, nothing the Mets do is that surprising.

In 2010, Walters had a 2-6 record for the Georgia Bulldogs. He started 13 of the 18 games he appeared in. As a starter, his ERA was 7.90. As a reliever, it was 17.30. Ouch! In 68.1 innings he gave up 98 hits. He walked 41, second most on his team. Opposing batters hit .338 against him. In two starts he yielded eight earned runs and in another, seven.

Yet the Mets drafted him seventh.

His fastball is in the 88-92 range. Not a blazer. Walters considers it his best pitch.

On the plus side:
  • Walters pitched for a bad team. This past season, Georgia's record was 16-37. In the SEC it was 5-23. Away it was 3-17.
  • Opposing hitters loved playing against Georgia. They averaged .338. The team ERA was 8.51.
  • In 2009, as a reliever (two starts in 27 appearances), his ERA was 4.64 in 42.2 innings -- but then that was a much better team too, finishing the season at 38-24.
  • In his last two starts in 2010 his ERA was 2.07.
  • In his last start against Kentucky, he pitched seven innings of shutout ball. (Kentucky finished the season at 31-25 -- 13-17 in the SEC.)
  • Without the three starts in which he surrendered at least seven earned runs, his ERA as a starter would have been 5.04.
It will be interesting to see whether he starts or relieves as a Met. (In his two seasons at St. Petersburg College, a junior college, he was a starter.)

Watch video of Walters pitching.

Final note: In one 2010 game, Walters faced another Mets draftee, Jacob deGrom. Playing shortstop, deGrom went 1 for 2 against Walters, grounding out and singling.

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