Chris Brooks is an up-and-coming player on an up-and-coming Walkertown team that figures to make its presence felt in Class 1-A baseball.
This season, the sophomore center-fielder showcased the skills of what scouts and coaches refer to as a five-tool player.
Brooks hits for average (.391) and power (nine extra-base hits), has good speed on the base paths, and rates as a top-flight fielder who has a strong throwing arm. He was second on the team in stolen bases (24 in 25 attempts) and runs scored (26).
As an outfielder, his speed and sense of anticipation enable him to deliver game-changing defensive plays.
“I feel like I can make a play on any ball that’s hit my way,” said Brooks, a three-sport athlete who also plays football and basketball. “Regardless of where a ball is hit, I like to show that I can go get it.”
Coach Bobby Smith notes that even though Brooks has the obvious physical gifts, it’s his mental approach that will help him to elevate his level of play.
“Chris is by far the best athlete on our team,” said Smith. “He can do it all. With him, there’s more to it than the physical part of it. What stands out most is his hustle, attitude and willingness to pay attention to detail. He’s a student of the game who’s always asking questions. During a game, he’s always picking my brain about all the things to consider with every different situation that comes up. There’s no question about his desire to improve.”
Walkertown baseball has come a long way in a short period of time. The school opened in 2011 and this was the first season in which the Wolfpack played a full varsity schedule.
Smith’s squad, which has no senior class, more than held its own this spring. Walkertown finished up with a 15-8 record and suffered a 7-3 loss to Lincoln Charter in a state playoffs play-in game. At press time, Lincoln Charter was still alive in the postseason. The Eagles were scheduled to play Hendersonville in the Class 1-A semifinal round on Tuesday.
Brooks’ season, while productive, was not easy. He learned right away that the varsity level is altogether different from what he encountered while playing junior varsity the year before. He went through a period of transition in getting acclimated to the faster pace of the game and the quality of the pitching.
“I had my struggles as a hitter,” said Brooks, a team co-captain. “The competition was so much better than JV. So, it was necessary for me to adjust my swing and get a better understanding how they were pitching to me.”
Brooks will continue to sharpen his game in the coming months playing for the Wolfpack in the Five County League that serves as a summertime playing venue for 12 high schools, which includes Walkertown, North Forsyth, Reynolds, Reagan, Mount Tabor and others.
“Chris is getting more work in the batting cage, so he can make contact more often,” said Smith. “Improvement will come because he doesn’t mind putting in the work. When he’s locked in, he’s a tough … against any pitcher he faces.”
Next season, Brooks will be looking to help his team exceed this year’s output. Individually, he aims to enhance his value as a hitter who can consistently drive in runs.
“Even though I had some struggles last year, I was still able to get some hits, but a lot of those came with nobody on base,” said Brooks, who had 13 RBIs this season. “One of my goals is to deliver more when we have runners in scoring position. I know that every year the competition is getting better, but at the same time, so am I.”