By: Hubble Smith, Vegas Voice Sports Editor
Zach Walters made a splash when he homered in back-to-back games after being called up by the Washington Nationals in April, but didn’t stick with the Major League club in part because he strikes out too often and needs to improve his defense.
On Thursday, Washington traded him to the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and cash, one of a flurry of major trades made before the July 31 deadline.
Don’t look for Walters, a Cimarron-Memorial High School standout and 2010 draft choice from University of San Diego, to step into the hole for the Tribe. They’ve got another hotshot shortstop, Francisco Lindor, in the minors.
Walters, acquired by the Nationals in a deal that sent Jason Marquis to Arizona, got a lot of attention in spring training 2013 not only for his hot bat, but for his neon-green shoelaces. Hey, it’s a Vegas thing.
The 6-2, 215-pound switch-hitting shortstop clobbered 29 home runs for Triple-A Syracuse in the International League in 2013 and impressed first-year manager Matt Williams in spring training. He’s got power from both sides and can steal a base, “so he’s got all the tools,” Williams said.
Walters is expected to be assigned to Triple-A Columbus in the International League.
Tell me more, Vinny
“A pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be … Dodger baseball is on the air.”
Those were the sweetest words I could hear as a young boy listening to Vin Scully broadcast Los Angeles Dodger games on the Dodger radio network. I thank God for life’s blessings, and that’s one of them.
So it was with nostalgic ecstasy that I heard the news of Scully returning for his 66th season as the Dodgers announcer next year. He’s an eloquent broadcaster, riveting storyteller and knowledgeable baseball historian.
I can hear my Cubby friend Craig here in Las Vegas go into his best Vin Scully imitation, mocking Scully’s reminiscent story-telling: “That pitch reminds me of the 1948 World Series game when ...”
His voice isn’t as crisp as it once was and he may confuse base runners now and then, but I’ll never get enough of Vin Scully. He’s a living legend.
Gallo stock rising
ESPN announcers were talking up former Bishop Gorman High School star Joey Gallo on a nationally televised game between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, posting a graphic of some of his accomplishments this year.
Gallo, a 6-5, 230-pound power-hitting third baseman in Rangers’ Double-A Midland organization, was named MVP of the Futures Game after hitting a game-winning two-run homer. He’s running neck and neck with Kris Byrant, another Las Vegas product, for the Minor League Baseball home run crown.
Most recently, Gallo was named Texas League Player of the Year for the week of July 27. He batted .357, scored seven runs, drove in 13 and smacked five home runs, giving him 36 for the year.
Gallo, 20, won the Bauman Trophy last year, leading the minor leagues with 40 home runs, 38 of them with Single-A Hickory in the South Atlantic League.
My power rankings show the Oakland A’s far and above the rest of MLB and they possibly got better by trading away Yoenis Cespedes, a franchise player and winner of the All-Star Game Home Run Derby. They picked up a solid pitcher in Jon Lester and World Series star Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox. Detroit countered by grabbing David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays, which further solidifies the Tigers’ staff for the postseason.
In the National League, the Washington Nationals have a slight edge over the Dodgers. I see a lot of parity in this league, and it could be anybody’s shot for the Series. If highly touted Bryce Harper ever plays up to his potential, he could carry the Nationals to a runaway division championship and postseason favorite.
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