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OU baseball: Former Sooner Steele Walker hits cycle, earns Carolina League Player of the Week honor

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Walker taps

Junior outfielder Steele Walker taps helmets with junior outfielder Cade Harris after hitting a home run April 13.

Former Sooner outfielder Steele Walker has always been known for his offensive proficiency.

But even after years of eclipsing the .300 mark at the plate — including a 2018 season with the Sooners in which he led the team in batting average and home runs — Walker had a day unlike any other on Friday, June 14. Walker, the starting center fielder for the Class A-Advanced Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox affiliate), hit for the cycle for the first time in his career to lead the Dash to a 6-2 victory over the Carolina Mudcats. The four hits on the day is also a career-high for Walker, who became the third player to hit for the cycle in the Dash's 74-year history.

“Never in my life at any level (have I hit for the cycle),” Walker told Minor League Baseball after the game. “I’ve never done that, so that’s why it’s cool. Honestly, it feels like freedom.”

Walker had a trio of hits and a pair of RBIs on Saturday and Sunday to cap off a six game stretch in which he hit .465 with two homers, two doubles, five runs scored and nine RBIs. He emerged as the clear choice for the Carolina League Player of the Week, receiving the honor for the first time in his young career.

The Prosper, Texas, native went undrafted out of high school but hit .326 in three years with the Sooners, putting his smooth swing and ability to spray balls all across the field on display.

Now, just one year after the White Sox selected him in the second round of the MLB Draft, Walker has already jumped up to No. 10 on the organization’s prospect rankings. Walker began the 2019 season with the Class A Kannapolis Intimidators but was called up to the Dash on April 30 after boasting a slash line of .365/.437/.581 through his first 74 at-bats.

At the moment, the former Sooner is honing in on the mental side of baseball as he handles the unpredictability of playing in the minor leagues.

"I'm learning how mental baseball is," Walker said. "At the level underneath this, I felt really comfortable and confident. I felt like I was really settled in, so you are ready to progress. When you change environments, you change coaches. You change teammates. You change your living situation. Off-the-field stuff changes. Relationships change. And you're supposed to be the same guy on the field every single day.”

 

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