Phillies Find Gem in Mitch Walding

The scouting highlight of my time in upstate, New York was not 2011 first rounders Taylor Guerrieri (Rays) or Larry Greene (Phillies). Nor was it Red Sox 2012 first round pick Deven Merrero. How about 2011 second round picks Roman Quinn (Phillies) and Williams Jerez (Red Sox)? No. Without a doubt, the most impressive few minutes of my five games scouted in New York was the batting practice display put on by Phillies third base prospect Mitch Walding. So frequent were the balls leaving Falcon Park, home of the Auburn Doubledays, that I was compelled to find the distance down the right field line as I kept having flashbacks of Asheville and its sub-300 foot porch.

Video after the jump

And while the power displayed in batting practice by Walding did not carry over into game action, his advanced approach allowed him to pepper line drives to all fields resulting in a multi-hit performance. Having seen the young third baseman at a time when his batting average sat in the .350’s, his current line of .280/.353/.374 is perplexing. However, Walding’s recent struggles are not enough to sway me from believing he is one of the best pure hitters I’ve scouted this season.

At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Walding has room to add an additional 20-30 pounds to his frame at full physical maturity. However, adding weight may not come easily considering his lack of natural size through the shoulders and hips.

In terms of athleticism, Walding’s long limbs cause him to look a bit awkward at times – especially when running and playing the infield. However, his swing is surprisingly short and quick considering his arm length leaving his bat more advanced than his glove at this point. Having already moved down the defensive spectrum from shortstop to third base, he is in no danger of having to move to a less valuable defensive position such as first base or a corner outfield spot.

In batting practice, Walding is able to stay inside the baseball better than just about every left-handed hitting prospect I’ve seen previously. Behind strong hands and a slight uppercut in his swing plane, Walding was able to let the ball travel deep into his hitting zone before tattooing baseball after baseball. And while his home runs were not tape measure shots, the natural backspin and loft he was able to generate was uncanny for a player his age.

However, that backspin did not carry over into game action although Walding consistently barreled the baseball with success. Instead of allowing the ball to travel and trusting his hands to do much of the work, Walding attacked pitches in front of the plate nullifying much of his impressive natural power. The contact skills are there for his strikeout rate to plummet, but Walding will likely struggle with identifying off-speed pitches until he makes an adjustment. Additionally, he was almost patient to a fault. It would benefit him to be a bit more aggressive – especially with two strikes – as about the only thing worse than short season pitching are short season umpires.

On defense, Walding’s throwing motion caused natural tail into the base runner. This led to an error early in the contest, as well another near mishap later on. His arm strength is at least average for the position, but he’ll need to develop a cleaner arm action to consistently make long throws across the diamond. With the glove, Walding picked everything in front of him and showed range to his left. As with many young prospects, his backhand side was a bit rough, but repetition and better technique should help. In time, there’s really no reason for Walding to become at least an average defender based on the skills he does have.

When totaling Mitch Walding’s signing bonus and future cost of a college education, the Phillies organization invested close to seven figures to sign the young third baseman. Based on other seven figure signings I’ve seen, Philadelphia made a wise investment as the potential is there for Walding to develop into a player with both an above average hit tool and power. In person, Walding presented far better than first round pick Larry Greene and is likely to be ranked as one of the better prospects in the organization this winter.

While much different in terms of build and being left-handed, my first impression of Mitch Walding is similar to that of Colorado Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado in terms of hitting ability. When I first saw Arenado in 2010, I was blown away by his feel for contact and focus on generating lift – down to the his bat flick when taking practice swings. Arenado hails from Newport Beach, a full six-plus hours from Walding’s stomping grounds in Lodi, California. But oddly enough, Walding had the same bat flick. The Phillies would surely be pleased if it yielded the same results.

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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

14 Responses to “Phillies Find Gem in Mitch Walding”

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  1. Harley says:

    Thanks for this. With an uncertain future for us Phillies fans, a nice glimmer of hope.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Quinn and Walding will be very exciting guys for you to follow. I love the fact they are letting Quinn work at SS and Walding will find a nice home at 3B. Many organizations would like to have so much talent on the left side of an infield at the MILB level.

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      • reillocity says:

        I saw a recent Williamsport-TriCity game in which Quinn had one of the roughest SS performances I have seen. He was officially charged with 2 errors but should have been charged with 3 (a misplayed and misthrown one-hopper right at him an was mercifully later changed from an error to a single) and he could have been charged with a 4th on a missed catch on a steal attempt tag. Even when he made a nice attempt to catch a blooper hit to short center he managed to knock the ball far enough away to turn the single into a double. He got the proverbial Bronx cheer from the crowd later in the night when he eventually handled a catch and throw flawlessly. At the plate, Quinn managed to put 3 balls in play for outs in 3 plate appearances versus Vincent Velasquez, one ball being hit well, which is more than can be said for most of his teammates. I didn’t see much of Walding that night so I can’t add any deep insights on him. Larry Greene was the one position player who stood out as the future major leaguer on the field for that one evening – I’d be stunned if he didn’t develop some semblance of HR power with that body and a swing that looks suited to driving the ball to all fields.

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      • Brian says:

        For what its worth, reillocity, Quinn played CF in high school and probably didn’t get much of a chance to work on fielding ground ballsl, so this is all mostly new to him. Nobody’s really expecting much of him at SS in the short term. Besides, even if he never figures it out, he has 80 speed and a good arm that should let him play CF again should the Phillies decide to go that route.

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      • reillocity says:

        I’m not shocked, Brian, as I was thinking that this guy looks a lot more like a 2B-CF-type than SS-2B-type when I watched him. I didn’t see the “good arm” that you described, even when he did corral the ball, but perhaps it was there and I just missed it.

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  2. David says:

    Mike – What is your initial take of Larry Greene? He seems like a power, OBP guy, and his numbers indicate that, but it doesn’t sound like you were impressed at all.

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    • B says:

      Yeah I’m also interested to hear the opinion of him, I’m pretty shocked how patient he is.

      Lots of interesting prospects there IMO. Between the 3 mentioned above, and Brian Pointer/Chris Serritella, it’s at least something positive for the org although the pitching staff is god awful in Williamsport this year.

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  3. Brett says:

    ahhh…the anti-Anthony Hewitt

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  4. David says:

    Anyone wanna take a crack at the Phillies Top Prospects list going into 2013? Here’s my take (based mostly on impact/potential as a MLB player rather than performance thus far) on the Top 15 going into 2013:

    1) Jesse Biddle (LHP)
    2) Larry Greene (LF)
    3) Dylan Cozens (RF)
    4) Trevor May (RHP)
    5) Mitch Walding (3B)
    6) Roman Quinn (SS)
    7) Shane Watson (RHP)
    8) Brody Colvin (RHP)
    9) Cesar Hernandez (2B)
    10) Aaron Altherr (CF/LF)
    11) Lisalverto Bonilla (RHP)
    12) Sebastian Valle (C)
    13) Phillippe Aumont (LHP)
    14) Austin Wright (LHP)
    15) Julio Rodriguez (RHP)

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    • Governator says:

      I would go:

      1. Biddle
      2. May
      3. Walding
      4. Colvin
      5. Valle
      6. Quinn
      7. Cozens
      8. Cesar Hernandez
      9. Pettibone
      10. L Greene
      11. Bonilla
      12. Gueller
      13. Franco
      14. J-Rod
      15. Wright

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  5. G$ says:

    You guys are both missing Adam Morgan. He’s got to be top 10, if not top 5, next year.

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  6. Mike says:

    I can’t see how you can put Watson up there, yet. I think Franco should be a bit higher. I’d go:

    1) Biddle
    2) Larry Greene
    3) May
    4) Cozens
    5) Cesar Hernadez
    6) Pettibone
    7) Colvin
    8) Bonilla
    9) Walding
    10) Aumont
    11) Franco
    12) Justin Friend
    13) J-Rod
    14) Valle
    15) Tocci

    I know I left out Quinn, Altherr, but I really like Tocci, and Friend witht the 5 pitches.

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  7. guy who knows where the beds are says:


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  8. guy who knows where the beds are says:


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