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6 days till FSU baseball: Brandon Walker comes to FSU as the seventh-rated RHP in Florida

Tallahassee-native boasts high ceiling with talented arm / Haylee Blitch

Brandon Walker showed out as a local prospect in his high school career at North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee. As a junior, Walker took home the 2018 All-Big Bend Player of the Year after posting a 2.22 ERA, .346 batting average, and four home runs. He followed his junior campaign with a 2019 All-Big Bend pitcher of the year award as a senior, posting a 1.00 ERA and striking out 88 batters. The Tallahassee-native comes to FSU as the 7th ranked RHP in the state of Florida and the Seminoles’ highest rated recruit in the 2019 class. Walker enters the season as the 14th best freshmen in the ACC, according to Perfect Game. With elite raw stuff, the ceiling is extremely high for the freshman.

Walker lit up the radar gun in fall, touching 96 MPH on the hill in his first appearance as a ‘Nole. The fastball will sit in the 93-94 MPH range with some good tailing action into right-handed hitters. The freshman pairs the fastball with a hammer slider in the low-to-mid 80’s. The slider is really hard to pick up off the fastball as it breaks just before the plate and cuts off the outside part of the plate for right-handed hitters. Developing a change up will be key for the freshman’s progression going forward, but the fastball-slider combo is advanced enough right now to get swings-and-misses at a high rate.

He showed his ability to get those swing-and-misses in fall, striking out four batters in three innings. But he also showed his weakness and what might keep him from the hill this season with his inconsistency in finding the strike zone. The RHP walked five batters in just three innings of work while throwing just 46% strikes. Despite the high walk-rate, he gave up just one run as he still missed bats. Walker has that rare “wild, but effective” trait. Hitters don’t really know what’s coming and are left guessing.

Despite the ability to miss bats, FSU is looking for relievers that will consistently throw strikes in high-leverage situations. I’d expect Walker to get a couple midweek starts this year, but not see him in high-leverage situations until the control is consistent. The NFC grad has a lot of JC Flowers’ in him on the mound. Hard fastball-slider combo and natural arm talent. But the ceiling is higher than a dominant closer and it would’ve been for JC as well if he pitched for three years at FSU. If Walker can develop a third pitch and find consistency around the strike zone, he can be a very good weekend starter. You may not see a ton of him in 2020, but if he can develop into a pitcher instead of a “thrower,” the future is bright for Walker and the Seminoles.