Walker homers in third straight game

Twins prospect grabs Midwest League lead with 16th longball

By Brandon Simes / MiLB.com | July 13, 2013 8:25 PM ET

Adam Brett Walker entered Saturday night on a tear and not even one of the Midwest League's best pitchers -- riding a five-week scoreless streak -- could slow him down.

The Twins' No. 18 prospect homered for the third straight game, drove in a pair of runs and scored twice to lead Class A Cedar Rapids to a 6-3 win over Bowling Green at Perfect Game Field.

"They kind of tried to pitch backwards a little bit with off-speed [stuff] early, but I hit the ball well tonight, so I'm pretty happy," Walker said.

The 21-year-old outfielder delivered an RBI double in the first inning off Jeff Ames (7-2) to put the Kernels in front to stay. Ames, the Rays' No. 12 prospect, brought a 24-inning scoreless streak into the game but left after allowing three runs on five hits in two innings.

Walker drilled his 16th homer in the fifth to give Cedar Rapids a 4-1 lead and take sole possession of the Midwest League lead. He's driven in eight runs during the home run streak and ranks second in the league with 75 RBIs, seven behind teammate Dalton Hicks.

"It's been pretty exciting [hitting behind Hicks]," Walker said. "We take pride in driving in runs. When people are out there on the bases, we think one of us is going to get the job done. We both have the ability to drive the ball."

Prior to the streak, Walker had just one round-tripper in 11 games.

"I started working with our hitting coach [Tommy Watkins] and the main thing was trying to keep my head still so I could see the ball. I had moved my head a little bit too much and wasn't seeing the ball as well," said Walker, the Twins' third-round pick in last year's Draft. "That's the main adjustment we made in the past three days."

The recent outburst, which includes three multi-hit efforts in his last seven games, isn't Walker's first. From April 22-27, the Milwaukee native totaled five roundtrippers and 16 RBIs during a four-game homer streak.

After posting a .948 OPS in April and an .833 mark in May, Walker put up a .722 OPS in June and went 7-for-34 (.206) in his first nine games this month.

"I think I was trying to do too much, pulling off the ball a little bit, so I'm trying to stay on it to give myself more time to make adjustments. And I've been able to take advantage of hittable pitches," he said.

Walker, who has 23 walks and 77 strikeouts in 319 at-bats, hopes to improve his plate discipline over the rest of the season while remaining aggressive against fastballs up in the zone like the two he hit Saturday for extra bases.

"I think [the Twins] just try to make sure I'm being aggressive when I'm getting fastballs to hit, just take advantage of it, that's the main thing," Walker said. "I think just try to drive the ball and improve my plate discipline, that's what they're trying to teach and I need to learn -- lay off the bad pitches and take advantage of the good pitches that are thrown to you."

Tim Atherton (5-2) picked up the win, allowing a run on two hits over six innings. The converted outfielder from Australia struck out four and lowered his ERA to 2.45.

Jorge Polanco, Minnesota's 17th-ranked prospect, had two hits to raise his average to .304. Tyler Grimes homered and singled, while Jeremias Pineda went 3-for-4 and scored a run out of the ninth spot in the lineup for the Kernels.

Brandon Simes is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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