CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Walker Gourley should always check the lineup card before the West Virginia Power takes the field. Where his name sits on that sheet isn't automatic.
Sometimes he'll bat second, sometimes third, sometimes ninth. Sometimes he'll play in left field, sometimes right field, sometimes first base. And he's succeeded no matter where he's ended up, which is why Power Manager Michael Ryan considers him one of the most valuable members of the roster.
Ryan called Gourley before the season began and told him that he and the organization felt his value would come as a utility player. Gourley figured that would be his future. He played shortstop in his first full year of pro ball, then playing some catcher and third base and moving around the infield his second year.
Last season, he played mostly in left field, but this season he's been seen in left and right and at first.
"Everybody on this team, we've kind of settled into defined roles," said Gourley, a 13th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2009 draft out of Eastern Wayne High School in North Carolina. "My role is the utility guy on this team, to be able to play three different positions and move around in the order. It's nice to feel that your manager has confidence in you."
That variety extends to the batting lineup, and Gourley has produced in every spot. The 6-foot, 185-pounder entered Thursday's game at Lakewood batting .339 with 11 doubles, three home runs and 26 RBI. He also leads the Power with 18 stolen bases.
"His offense doesn't suffer with whatever position he's playing," Ryan said. "If he's playing first base, he doesn't feel he needs to be a power hitter because of where he's playing.
"When he hits in the nine-hole, he does a good job working counts," he added. "When he hits in the two-hole, he does a good job moving guys over. When he hits in the three-hole, he does a good job driving guys in. Anywhere you put him, he's having success."
Gourley had his hand in the Power's 7-6, 12-inning win Wednesday night against the Hagerstown Suns. His was the tying run in that inning, when Suns catcher Pedro Severino's throw to first on a Raul Fortunato bunt sailed wide. Then Max Moroff's walk-off single scored Jordan Steranka to complete the comeback.
Gourley's contributions started in the first inning Wednesday. Starting in right field and batting third, he reached first base on a force attempt and throwing error at second. Then he and Jordan Steranka came home on a Max Moroff double to left that was part of a four-run first that gave West Virginia a 4-2 lead.