Walker called up to Braves; 2 from Davie on field

Published 9:49 am Thursday, July 25, 2019

Davie County resident Jeremy Walker was called to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, joining the club as a right-handed reliever, possibly to be used in the closer role.

The Braves were playing the Kansas City Royals Wednesday night. That’s where Whit Merrifield, also from Davie County, plays. The two sometimes work out together during the off season.

Walker said that Merrifield texted him about hitting a bomb off of him in his Major League debut. Walker, while praising his friend, said he told him to “shut up.”

Walker did not pitch in Wednesday’s game, but will be on the bench again when the Braves face Philadelphia on Friday night.

Walker has a 2.84 ERA in 26 appearances this season at AA Mississippi and AAA Gwinnet. He has struck out 71 against eight walks.

He pitched 19 innings with Triple-A Gwinnett before getting the call Tuesday night in Louisville.

Walker at first ignored the phone call while he was in a hotel room in Louisville, then answered the voice mail. It was Triple-A manager Damon Berryhill, trying to inform his reliever he was head to the Atlanta Braves.

“My roommate said, ‘You might want to answer that,’” Walker told Fox Sports. “But I ignored it and got the voicemail. I called (Berryhill) back. At first I was – I mean, what do you say? So I just said, ‘All right let’s go,’ and he said, ‘You’ve got your flight tomorrow.’”That flight was at 10:45 a.m Wednesday. Walker woke up at 8 a.m., working on little sleep. He already had told his family, and his parents, brother, sister-in-law, girlfriend and a couple of friends booked their trips to Atlanta.

Joel, his father, received the first call.

“What are you doing tomorrow? Can you come to Atlanta?” Walker asked his father.

“And he said, ‘What for?’ So I said, ‘What other reason would you be coming to Atlanta for?’

He was like, ‘No way,’ and I said, ‘Yeah man, get over here.’”

“You look at the numbers, and he doesn’t walk anyone,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I’ve watched the video. He’s getting results. It’s the same way I felt about Jacob Webb last year. You look at numbers and dig, see who these guys are. You go down there, do well and put up numbers like that, you get noticed.

“Sometimes I think we’re maybe a right-hander away, and who knows? This might be a kid we have internally to fill that role.”

Walker is 6-foot-5, 205-pounds.

His expertise is dealing strikes and generating groundballs.

“I wouldn’t say (the bullpen move) helped me, necessarily,” he said. “You just have a different mentality starting versus relieving. You can focus for a shorter amount of time when you’re relieving. I like doing both but I seem to have made a jump as a reliever, so I’m happy with it.”

“Most of my buddies went to big league camp and I wasn’t invited, which is fine,” he said. “You still have to do what you’ve got to do. I went over there probably three or four games, I think I threw twice. I did all right. I think I got two or three outs and they pulled me each time. It was good to go over there and get my feet wet a little bit. “If you’d ask me then where I’d be now, I wouldn’t (have said) I’d be here.”