The Minot Vistas American Legion baseball team had a good idea of what its defense would look like when the season started more than a month ago.
The Vistas had their starting pitching rotation set, their catchers determined, their outfield in order and most of the infield figured out. The only question remaining was who would step up and fill the hole at second base, a position left vacant following Marcus Quist's final year with the Vistas.
The answer is Travis Walker. The first-year Vista has solidified his spot at second base with a .926 fielding percentage in 95 chances. Walker has recorded 47 putouts and is second on the team with 41 assists. He's also helped turn five double plays.
"He's played pretty consistent defense for us there," Minot coach Todd Larson said. "We've worked really hard with him and (shortstop) Austin Eggl as a middle infield tandem. We certainly didn't turn many double plays early in the season. Travis has been working hard. He's not afraid to work and he keeps on getting better out there."
Walker has had ample opportunities as of late to show off his abilities at second baseman. In his last seven games, Walker has had 27 total chances, recording 11 putouts and 12 assists.
"I'm glad I went for it because I'm a lot more comfortable there," Walker said. "I have some things I have to work on, but Coach Larson will help me out with that. I actually feel a lot more comfortable at second base than any other position I've played in the past."
Walker spent the majority of last year playing third base for the Metros.
His consistency is apparent at the plate as well, where he is batting .300. He's recorded a hit in seven of his last 10 games and reached base in 22 of 26 games. Walker's biggest moment came against Williston on June 21 when he blasted a grand slam and finished with five RBIs against the rival Keybirds. He's one of six Vistas to homer this season.
"That was pretty good. Probably the hardest-hit ball I've had in a while," Walker said. "I think I was kind of in a slump around that time, so it kind of got me going again. It helped propel the offense a little bit."
Walker has 17 singles and three doubles to go along with his grand slam. He's driven in 16 runs and scored 13 times.
Walker batted near the middle of the order with the Magicians, seeing a variety of pitches. Now toward the bottom of the order, he sees a lot more fastballs, which attributes to his .395 on-base percentage.
"He's been pretty consistent at the plate for us," Larson said. "We have him down in the order where he's seen a lot more fastballs. That's a good place to have a first-year guy."
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.