2016 Orioles preview: Christian Walker

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With Opening Day less than two weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.

March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo
March 7 – Matt Wieters
March 8 – T.J. McFarland
March 9 – Dariel Alvarez
March 10 – Brian Matusz
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Mychal Givens
March 13 – Ryan Flaherty
March 14 – Ubaldo Jimenez
March 15 – Mark Trumbo
March 16 – Darren O’Day
March 18 – Pedro Alvarez
March 19 – Oliver Drake
March 20 – Mike Wright
March 21 – Zach Britton
March 22 – Caleb Joseph
March 23 – Dylan Bundy

1B/OF Christian Walker

Age: 24

Contract status: Under club control through at least the 2021 season

2015 stats (with Triple-A Norfolk): .257/.324/.423, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 68 R, 1 SB, 592 PA

Why to be impressed: Walker has received no more than a cameo in the majors with a combined 31 plate appearances over the last two years, but he posted a .922 on-base plus slugging percentage with four home runs and 14 RBIs in his first 42 at bats this spring. The 2012 fourth-round pick is also learning how to play the outfield, an important development with Chris Davis firmly entrenched at first base.

Why to be concerned: Despite having already gotten his feet wet at Norfolk a year earlier, Walker posted an underwhelming .748 OPS for the Tides in 2015, which doesn’t indicate enough power to stick as a regular in the big leagues — at least as a first baseman. The right-handed hitter also struck out 136 times, which is a high total for someone who doesn’t have standout power.

2016 outlook: Walker’s future with the Orioles could hinge on whether he can learn the outfield as there doesn’t figure to be many opportunities at first base or the designated hitter spot in the foreseeable future. With left field remaining a question mark for Baltimore entering the 2016 season, Walker could make himself an intriguing option if he can play solid defense there for Norfolk.

2016 not-so-scientific projections: .241/.304/.405, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R, 0 SB, 81 PA