Getting A Crash Course: Nick Walsh

Getting A Crash Course: Nick Walsh

Nick Walsh is getting a crash course in what it's like to be a utility player in the Minor Leagues during his first full professional season. Walsh has played with Charleston, Tampa, and is currently in his third stint with Trenton at Double-A.

Nick Walsh was signed by the Yankees on June 16 of last year as an un-drafted free agent and admits that it has been a wild and crazy ride after spending most of last season with the Battle Creek Yankees of the Midwest League.

Walsh hit .316 at low-A last year but he hasn't been able to translate that into any tangible success at the plate this year, managing only a .227 batting average at Tampa and an even poorer .189 in Charleston before posting better than a .500 average in three stints with Trenton this year.

While Walsh would love to have some stability in his life, he is thankful for the chance to play and is just trying to make the most of his opportunity to perform in the upper minor leagues and open some eyes.

"It's been a crazy ride and I'd love to have a solid place to call home but I've just got to try and play well and help the team win, whether it's Charleston or Trenton," said Walsh.

To say Walsh has played sparingly at this level is an understatement. He has appeared in only four games in three tours of duty with Trenton this season and his ridden the bench for most of that time. In the four games he has played, he has hit the ball well for a .545 average and played steady, defense in left field.

Walsh doesn't mind that he has such a drastically limited role on this team as they compete for a pennant in the Eastern League North.

"I'm not frustrated. I didn't expect to come here and play and I don't think I deserve to play. This team has starters who deserve to play and they are in a pennant race. I just hope to contribute anyway I can and my playing time is just icing on the cake," said the young utility man.

His current manager, Bill Masse, believes that Walsh should be pleased he has made it to Double-A and try to contribute when he is in the lineup.

"He's in a tough situation, but that's the job of utility men in the minor leagues and every organization needs kids like him for injuries and things. He should be happy to be here and try to contribute as long as he's here," said the skipper.

Walsh says he has reevaluated what his goals for the season were several times, considering all the movement he has endured this season, but admits that being on a winning team helps to keep you motivated to play well. He hasn't worried about his own personal statistics with either team he played for this year because of how competitive the teams he has played for have been.

"Personal statistics go out the door when you're playing for teams like these [Charleston and Trenton]. You just want to contribute and winning takes precedence," said Walsh.

Walsh sees quite a jump between the South Atlantic League and the Eastern League in how pitchers approach a hitter at the plate. He believes that pitchers are much less reliant on their fastball at this level than those he has seen in the SAL. He says there is a learning curve that comes with this level but that he has made the adjustment alright in his limited playing time.

"Starting pitching has better command at this level and they like to get ahead early and are more reliant on off-speed stuff, while in low-a ball guys will throw their fastball more. They want to make it tough to get hits because the pitchers are good athletes at this level," said Walsh.

Walsh doesn't know where he'll be tomorrow or at the end of the season, but he'll be happy as long as he can help contribute to that team's success. While he enjoys Trenton and would love to be a part of their late-season drive toward the Championship, he admits that he has learned a lot that he could take back to Charleston and impart on the younger players in the Yankees organization.

"I think the biggest thing about this team is their work ethic. I'll be in the clubhouse at 2:30 and 2:40 and I'm the only one around because everybody's out in the cage taking extra swings or taking groundballs, so the big thing with this team is their work ethic for sure," said the infielder/outfielder.

Walsh is a steady role player who will assist whatever team he ends up with nobly in their run to the end of the season. Walsh should be commended for his willingness to work hard despite his lack of playing time.

It is this work ethic and this commitment to his teammates that will go along way toward helping him become a greater part of any team he latches on with down the road.

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