The White Sox’ first pick in the draft, fleet center fielder Keenyn Walker of Central Arizona Junior College, reached an agreement with the team on Tuesday.
Walker was drafted 47th, in the supplemental round. The Sox did not have a first-round choice, but Walker received the first-round treatment with a U.S. Cellular Field tour, media interviews and throwing out the first pitch before the Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
“It feels great,” said Walker, who signed for $795,000. “I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a little kid and to finally be signed and ready to go out and play feels good.”
Walker, who had 65 stolen bases in 63 games, projects as a leadoff-type hitter. He’ll report to Advanced Rookie League Great Falls (Mont.) and be in the lineup Saturday, scouting director Doug Laumann said.
“I think we’d be unrealistic to say that he can move [up the chain] like some of the guys we’ve had the last few years, but we do have the need,” Laumann said. “We’re still real confident in [outfielder] Jared Mitchell [drafted first in 2009]. They’re similar-type players and we think they both have the chance to be center fielders, top of the order guys and that’s what we’re looking at for Keenyn. Now we’ve got two of them, so it’s not a bad problem to have.”
“He’s a talented kid. The ability that he has to make contact and to run and play defense puts him a little ahead of the curve because he’s going to be able to contribute even if his bat struggles at times. The fact that he’s a switch-hitter, sometimes when you’re a young hitter, the hardest thing fore that young hitter to do, especially when you’re hitting right-handed, is handle that tough, hard slider, a pitch you don’t see a lot in college or in high school. That adjustment for him doesn’t really exist because of being a switch-hitter, he’s hitting from the left side so he doesn’t really have the difficulty with that pitch.”
Walker was drafted twice previously, including once by the Cubs. He said his knowledge of the Sox was limited before the draft.
“I catch a couple games every now and then, and on SportsCenter,” he said. “But before the White Sox drafted me, I didn’t know that much. I grew up an Angels fan. Just because the Angels were right around the corner from me. I saw all the people that are playing for the Angels now, like Erick Aybar, Torii Hunter and all them. I just focused on the Angels. But now that I’m with the White Sox, I’ll focus on them a little more.”