It won’t be Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, or anyone else you have seen pitch a big league game starting for the New York Mets in their spring training opener. Instead, it’ll be 27-year-old Josh Walker who gets the ball.
Drafted in the 37th round back in 2017, the Connecticut native only saw limited action as a professional until last season. Someone saw something special. After grinding it out in the lowest levels from 2017-2019, he climbed from High-A up to Triple-A in 2022.
Not your typical prospect, Walker’s start is still important even just beyond the honor it is. Because he throws left-handed, all eyes should be on him as a potential late-bloomer who could give the Mets some much-needed relief.
Josh Walker starts for the Mets in the spring opener but his ultimate destiny could have him in the bullpen
Walker’s 2021 season included promising stints in Brooklyn and Binghamton before he got roughed up a little bit in Syracuse. However, he did manage to combine to toss 115.2 innings and finish the year with a 3.73 ERA.
Odds are against Walker beginning the season on the Mets roster. He’s not even a member of the 40-man roster at the moment so unless he blinds us with how bright he shines this spring, he’s probably bound for Syracuse. That doesn’t mean it’ll be the last we see of him. A lack of big-league lefties should put him in line to get a call into the manager’s office to tell him he’s getting promoted.
Despite his age, MLB.com still has Walker rated as the club’s number 16 prospect. His success last year is a big reason for it.
Throughout the spring, we should see a lot of the non-roster invitees the Mets brought with them get significant action. Guys like Walker, who are not the big-name prospects, have the most to work for. Francisco Alvarez can look like me trying to throw a ball blinded-folded with my left arm and things aren’t going to change. Walker, on the other hand, has to be at his best.
After Walker’s Saturday start, the Mets intend to have David Peterson followed by Scherzer and finally deGrom. Mets baseball is back. In typical spring training fashion, the first pitch comes from a guy probably wearing a number that belongs on a football player. Let’s set the over/under at 70.5.