Zaid Walker, the right fielder on the Homewood-Flossmoor High School baseball team, is so good that Major League Baseball scouts are at games watching his performance. What’s in their notebooks is not just his fielding record, but his focus on the game and ability to swing.
Zaid Walker, the right fielder on the Homewood-Flossmoor High School baseball team, is so good that Major League Baseball scouts are at games watching his performance.
What’s in their notebooks is not just his fielding record, but his focus on the game and ability to swing.
H-F’s season has gotten off to a slow start.The cold and wet weather has forced the cancellation of numerous games. Walker has come out on top, though, as H-F’s leading hitter. His .400 average comes from three doubles, two triples and a homer, “so he’s hitting a lot and one of our better outfielders,” said Todd Sippel, H-F’s baseball coach.
MLB draft day is June 4 and Sippel is certain Walker will be drafted.
“There are at least a few (scouts) at every game watching. It’s impossible to predict where he’ll get drafted, but I do think he’ll be the first positional player that’s been drafted out of H-F since I’ve been head coach,” said Sippel who’s been head coach for 13 years, and served for three years as assistant coach.
Walker admits there is excitement as draft day — the day after he graduates from H-F — approaches, but he’ll wait to see what offers come before he commits to a team.
The son of Marvin and Donyell Walker of Homewood remembers getting his first baseball glove when he was 4 years old. He has never walked away from the game, despite a number of struggles.
“He had a number of setbacks, personally and in baseball, but where most kids would be discouraged, he persevered through adversity. He works hard. He’s not a quitter,” his dad said.
From early on, Marvin Walker said he recognized his son’s “enthusiasm, attitude and love for the game. He’s willing to work harder to get better,” including hours at the Bo Jackson elite sports center in Lockport where he has a personal trainer.
Coach Sippel, who has coached Walker on the varsity team for three years, sees the same thing.
“He’s constantly getting better. His batting average was .300 in his sophomore year, and he raised it to the mid- to high-.300s his junior year.
“He’s one of those kids that leads by example. He’s not really a loud guy as a leader but he does the right things all the time and kids follow that,” Sippel said.
The 18-year-old says baseball “teaches me more about life than anything else” and Mike Trout, center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, is the player he wants to emulate.
“He’s a bigger, stronger power. He’s amazing. I want to be like him,” he said.
Walker has a great back-up plan should the MLB draft announcement not be to his liking.
“I’m going to Michigan State. It was my favorite coaching staff of all the colleges. I felt like when I got on campus that was the place for me. It’s Big 10, one of the best conferences. I can see myself developing there and having some success.”
And, he adds, it has a program that he intends to major in: supply chain management.
Once he’s in college, Walker won’t be eligible for the MLB draft until the end of his junior year.
He knows the minor leagues are a lot of cheap hotels and crazy schedules, but he believes that’s part of the preparation for the majors. He believes those days will make him work that much harder to get to where he wants to be.