The St. Louis Cardinals are sitting comfortably ahead in the NL Central race at 87-61. They have an eight-game lead over the Brewers with 14 games left in the regular season. Meaning they’ve pretty much assured themselves of a playoff spot again. That’s long been the standard in St. Louis; win division titles and compete for World Series championships. Amidst the hoopla of the pennant race, Cardinals great Albert Pujols closing in on 700 career homers. Pujols is looking to become the fourth player in MLB history to hit 700 dingers, joining Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. Pujols has been on a tear since the beginning of August hitting 12 homers to lift his total to 698 as the season nears its conclusion.
The Next Big Thing In St. Louis
With Pujols retiring the cupboard isn’t bare as far as prolific power hitters in St. Louis go. Rising star Jordan Walker is set to be the cornerstone piece for the Cards going forward. Walker is a 6-foot-5 and 250-pound slugger who also hits for average.
What can't Cardinals 2020 1st round pick Jordan Walker do?
– A scorcher of a double that @CodySchindler_ marks with a 112 exit velocity, then shows off the speed.
– Then a web gem at third base.@jwalker0522 showing off in Peoria tonight. @peoriachiefs @CardsPlayerDev pic.twitter.com/3PrdQY2MTX
— Matt McClain (@MattMcClain3) August 11, 2021
Walker Has Showcased Unique Hitting Ability With Springfield: He’ll Have Company In The AFL
his past season, which ended Sunday, Walker had a very nice slash line of .308/.390/.508. He also went yard 18 times, tallying 64 RBI, 30 doubles and three triples in 116 games. Walker also displayed his talents on the base pads stealing 22 bases in 27 attempts.
The Cardinals trust that Walker and some of his teammates like Tink Hence and Masyn Winn will pan out in the majors. They decided to not pursue Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto at the trade deadline, instead opting to build with their own homegrown players.
Leading up to the trade deadline, Walker’s name was in the news often. If the team wanted to trade for the aforementioned Soto, it would cost at least Walker and Winn. Walker kept his cool and focused on the task at hand. Here’s what he told MLB.com in early August.
“I don’t really think too much into it. I just feel like that’s going to be too much to think about during the season when it’s already tough. Whatever happens, happens. I just want to play my game. Masyn and I, people have asked us that before, but we really don’t think too much about it.”
Winn and Hence will also be joining Walker in the AFL, as the Cardinals continue to prep and develop each player to be called up. Winn is the club’s No.2 ranked prospect and Hence is their No.6 ranked prospect. Both are also ranked in the top 100 of MLB Pipeline.
— Jordan Walker (@jwalker0522) August 18, 2022
Walker Will Be Triple-A Memphis Next Season
Following his appearance in the AFL, Walker will be called up to Triple-A Memphis, where he’ll face better and more experienced pitching. With his rapid development and elite skillset, the belief is he’ll get his first swings in the majors at some point during the 2023 season. And that could be just in time as the Cards will be looking to replace the franchise’s greatest player in Pujols.
Some believe Walker also possesses the versatile skillset to be the Cardinals leadoff hitter when called up. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him leading off in the AFL to get acclimated to being a party starter. Imagine that kind of power, hitting ability and base pad running at the top of the order. It would definitely be something we haven’t seen often. And for manager Oliver Marmol it would surely be a welcomed sight.