Colin Walsh is a quick study.
On and off of the diamond, the Quad-Cities infielder is a man on the move. Drafted by St. Louis in the 13th round of the June draft out of Stanford, Walsh already has earned two promotions in the Cardinals' farm system.
After early success at short-season, rookie-level Johnson City and short-season Batavia, the switch-hitting Walsh is batting .193 through 15 games with the River Bandits.
"There are not many players who have the chance to move up two levels in a season, but he has been ready for the next challenge," Quad-Cities manager Johnny Rodriguez said. "He is a smart player who has a great feel for the game."
He also has learned to be flexible.
Walsh has played in the Appalachian and New York-Penn leagues since signing a pro contract in June, and in his latest stop he almost has had a chance to unpack his suitcase.
"I've seen a lot of the country this summer, but I don't mind that one bit," Walsh said. "I'll gladly keep moving up. It's been an interesting first year, a chance to experience a lot of different levels and meet a lot of coaches and players in the organization. That will be beneficial moving forward."
A second baseman who batted .319 during his collegiate career in the Pac-10 and a four-year starter at shortstop as a high school player in La Jolla, Calif., Walsh also is learning a new position with Quad-Cities.
He is seeing action at third base for the first time, and he welcomes the opportunity to learn.
"Versatility is something in pro ball that only helps a player," Walsh said. "If you can play multiple positions, you add to your value to the organization and even though it's been a bit different, I'm learning and it will help me down the road being able to play second and third."
Walsh has found the positions to be different as he defends.
"Probably more different that I initially anticipated," he said. "Third base is very reactive. It's almost all reaction as the ball comes off the bat. At second, you have to react but you do have a bit more time to get set up to make a play. It's been an adjustment, and I'm still learning."
That also is the case off the diamond.
Walsh expects to return to Stanford at the conclusion of this season and take classes for two quarters over the next two offseasons.
By the time he arrives at spring training in 2012, Walsh will have earned his undergraduate degree in management, science and engineering from Stanford and will have also earned master's in civil engineering.
"I was a little ahead in my coursework when I was drafted as a junior earlier this year, so I am on track to finish up with my master's after next season," Walsh said. "It's something I want to complete, and with a couple of good quarters this off season I will be in a position to make that happen."
Rodriguez said Walsh's success in the classroom carries over to his approach on the field.
"He is a smart player, and that shows in the way he handles himself at the plate," Rodriguez said. "He does a good job of working the count and his plate discipline has been impressive."
Walsh is working with Quad-Cities hitting coach Joe Kruzel and Rodriguez to eliminate a tendency in his swing to drift a bit.
"Instead of going down and, boom, making contact, he occasionally will drift. Once he works through that, he's going to be a good hitter because his approach is so good," Rodriguez said.
Walsh saw plenty of fastballs while hitting .261 over six games at Johnson City, watched pitchers begin to blend in a few more pitches as he hit .300 in 24 games with Batavia and has faced more consistent pitching on a regular basis since joining Quad-Cities on Aug. 4.
He is less than satisfied with his statistical start in the Midwest League.
"It's a bit of a cliché, but I do feel like I'm hitting ball well. I've hit the ball hard, and I've been swinging at good pitches, but I've been hitting it right at people," Walsh said. "Hopefully as things progress, I will start to find some holes."
Colin Walsh vitals
Position: Second base, third base
Hometown: La Jolla, Calif.
Obtained: 13th round, 2010 draft
Born: Sept. 26, 1989
Career: Was a standout baseball, soccer and cross country athlete at The Bishop's School in La Jolla, Calif., earning all-San Diego County honors twice in baseball and California Interscholastic Federation all-section honors in cross country. ... Two-time honorable mention all-Pac 10 infielder for Stanford, where he hit .319 in 143 games. ... Was an all-star infielder in the wood-bat Cape Cod League in the summer of 2009. ... His grandfather, Jack, was a basketball letterman at Georgetown from 1953-56
By the numbers: Is hitting .193 after 15 games with Quad-Cities, including two doubles, a triple and a home run.