The Rays and Giants have combined on a trade of minor leaguers, with right-hander Jeremy Walker heading to Tampa Bay and catcher/infielder Ford Proctor going to the Giants. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Proctor had been dealt, while The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome reported Walker’s involvement in the trade.
Walker’s MLB experience consists of 9 1/3 innings with the Braves in 2019, and the righty has a 3.91 ERA over 439 2/3 minor league innings since Atlanta made him a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft. Working mostly as a starter in his first three pro seasons, Walker made a successful transition to relief pitching in 2019 that resulted in his first Major League call-up. However, he didn’t pitch at all in 2020-21 due to the canceled minor league season and a shoulder impingement.
There is clearly some rust still to be worked off after Walker’s long layoff, as he has struggled to a 6.99 ERA over 37 1/3 combined innings (35 1/3 in Triple-A, two in Double-A) in 2022. While his 23.2% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate are nothing special, Walker has been allowing a ton of hits, and a .390 BABIP indicates some level of bad luck for the 27-year-old.
Given Tampa Bay’s successes in pitching development, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Walker get back on track in a new organization. In exchange, the Rays are giving up a third-rounder from the 2018 draft in Proctor, who was ranked 19th on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top 30 prospects in Tampa’s farm system. Dealing Proctor also opens up a spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster, which hints at future moves to come before tomorrow’s trade deadline.
Proctor hit well in A-ball in 2019 and at Double-A in 2021, and also posted some good numbers in the Australian Baseball League and in indy ball in 2020 in lieu of a proper minor league season. In 2022, however, Proctor has hit a modest .213/.329/.306 over 317 PA at Triple-A Durham, his first taste of Triple-A pitching.
Perhaps best known for his unusual defensive profile, Proctor was drafted an infielder but started catching in 2020. Proctor has started 52 games behind the plate for Durham this season while also making 10 starts as a third baseman, one start as a shortstop, and four appearances as a second baseman. The Giants are known to prize defensive versatility, and Proctor’s ability to act as more than just a traditional backup catcher could allow him to carve out a path to a spot on a big league roster.