BRADENTON, FLA. — First baseman-outfielder Christian Walker, who the Orioles designated for assignment Tuesday, was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, ending the tenure of a player who was not long ago one of the organization's top prospects.
Walker, 25, was the Orioles' minor league Player of Year in two seasons ago, but his stock dropped since then. He was blocked at first base when the Orioles re-signed Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo and was passed by Trey Mancini as the organization's top first base prospect.
That prompted the Orioles to move Walker to the outfield, but after one year playing left field at Triple-A Norfolk, he was still adjusting to the position switch.
He was designated for assignment to make 40-man roster space for left-hander Richard Bleier, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Yankees for a player to be named later.
"It's a good move for Christian," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the Orioles' 6-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Pirates at LECOM Park on Saturday. "He was kind of [stuck with] where we are with Chris and Trum. It's a good move for him as a human being and for his career. We thought with him having an option [remaining], we thought it was a good possibility. It's a good move for him and I'm happy for him. He'll get a good look and a good opportunity there."
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Walker, the Orioles' fourth-round draft pick in 2012, had his best season in 2014, hitting .288/.357/.489 with 26 homers and 96 RBIs between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk.
He hit 18 homers in each of the past two seasons with the Tides, numbers that were diminished by playing home games at cavernous Harbor Park. In 131 games with Norfolk last season, Walker hit .264/.321/.437.
The Orioles also lost outfielder Adam Walker to the Braves on waivers on Jan 26. Walker was designated to make roster room for the re-signing of Trumbo.
Around the horn
Showalter said Saturday that because of uncertainty related to Vidal Nuno's role in the World Baseball Classic, he will pitch two innings in his first exhibition appearance to stretch him out a bit. … Chris Dickerson has a sore foot after fouling a ball off it Friday, but he was in the traveling party to Bradenton.