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It’s not often you come across a guy who has been through such a whirlwind season as Chicago White Sox second-round pick Steele Walker. He’s moved around from Arizona to Great Falls and now to North Carolina with great energy and a positive attitude. White Sox fans are going to love this kid — personality for days, but also driven to succeed.
I talked with Steele in advance of his first appearance for the Low-A Intimidators this weekend in Kannapolis.
Had some fun talking with #whitesox 2nd round pick Steele Walker for @SoxMachine. It's been a whirlwind few weeks for him, as he describes here. Steele is starting in CF tonight as the Kannapolis @Intimidators host SAL division rival Greensboro. @FutureSox pic.twitter.com/hPxZKKd5yN
— Jonathan Lee (@followmefor3) August 4, 2018
Q. You have a funny story about how you got the news that the Chicago White Sox drafted you.
Walker: Draft day was interesting for me. I was actually on a plane. We (the Oklahoma Sooners baseball team) had just lost in the regionals in Tallahassee, Fla. I missed basically the entire first round, so when we land (the draft) is into the supplemental picks. Got a call from my dad that we had a deal with the White Sox. I’m like, the White Sox? OK, sweet! It was unexpected because I didn’t talk to them a lot in the draft process. But they made a great offer. I’m super thankful how it happened.
Q. You were in Great Falls, Montana for just a few weeks. How was that experience for you, both on and off the field?
Walker: Man, it was an adjustment. Es (Great Falls Voyagers Manager Tim Esmay) and E-Rich (hitting coach Eric Richardson) were really phenomenal and refreshing to be able to play for. They let you be free and created a nice developmental environment which is huge when you’re just getting started in professional baseball. I had a great host home and really nice parents. I gotta say, and I know it’s super cliché, but the land up there is beautiful. You’ve got rivers running in and out of the mountains and no civilization, so you’re just looking at straight land. There’s no sales tax! So the price on the menus are the price you pay, so that’s really cool.”
Q. You’ve been moving around a lot in the past few weeks, is that physically taxing on your mind and body?
Walker: You can’t ever be too settled in this business. I went from Dallas to Chicago to Arizona to Great Falls and now North Carolina and it’s all happening in a compressed amount of time, but the thing is, you gotta have the right mindset about it. You enjoy the ride. You can obviously look at it negatively, like I’m unorganized, I’m getting no sleep, but no way I’m looking at it that way. I’m living the dream. I’m going to places I’ve never been before and I’m playing baseball. I’m enjoying where I’m at.
Q. You haven’t had a chance to play here due to cancelled games, but have you had the chance to get to know your new teammates here in Kannapolis?
Walker: The guys are super welcoming, I’ve been here three days, but I feel like I’m right at home. I’ve been able to spend hours and hours with them because of the rain delays. The locker room isn’t big, so you don’t have a choice but to meet everyone and talk to people, because you’re in there for like 6 hours waiting, so I really do feel like I know them without playing a game. It’s going to be nice getting on the field and seeing how we mesh as a team.
Q. You only have another month of ballgames this season. What are your goals as the season comes to a conclusion?
Walker: I’m not coming in with the expectation of hitting .600. No, I want to grow. Get comfortable playing everyday, that’s the biggest thing. Stay healthy and keep my strength up coming off an injury. Having a ton of success, that’s not the goal here, just getting started on this professional journey. I’m thankful to be in Kannapolis. I enjoy the process, I think everything else takes care of itself after that.