WINNIPEG - The ‘Ace’ on the mound is returning to the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
Pitcher Ace Walker has been signed by the Goldeyes to return for the 2012 American Association baseball season, his fifth with the Goldeyes.
Walker, 28, last season recorded 10 wins and set the Goldeyes’ record for most career wins with 38 victories. This season, he will become the first starting pitcher to play five seasons with the Goldeyes.
"He’s about as reliable as they come in terms of starting pitching in independent baseball," Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said in a statement. "He’s going to take the ball every fifth day and pitch into the sixth or seventh inning. If a guy can be that consistent, your team is obviously going to have a chance to win."
In 2012, Walker needs 15 strikeouts to pass Forney for the Goldeyes’ career record and he could pass Jeff Bittiger in career shutouts if he records four this season.
Last season, Walker went 10-4 in 21 starts with a 3.37 ERA. He became the third pitcher in team history to record 10 wins in two or more seasons, joining Forney and Rafael Gross. Walker won 12 games in 2009 when he was the Northern League’s pitcher of the year.
"If you look over the past few years and the number of games he’s won and the number of innings he’s pitched, there’s not too many guys in independent baseball that have accomplished that," Forney said.
A product of Sparks, Okla., Walker is a right-handed pitcher who holds Goldeyes’ team career records for complete games (13), games started (84) and innings pitched (553) and single-season records for complete games (six in 2009) and games started (22 in 2010).
"I consider ourselves lucky to have a guy like Ace for the number of years that we’ve had him. It doesn’t happen very often," Forney stated. "Ace is one of those guys that has a job away from baseball that allows him to go play baseball in the summer if he so choses to."
In the off-season, Walker works as artist and has painted numerous graphics behind home plate at Shaw Park.