It’s Jordan Walker’s time and the 20-year-old MLBbro from Stone Mountain, Georgia is not taking his first MLB Spring Training invite lightly.
In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals third base prospect isn’t thinking about returning to the minors. The major brands taking the field for St. Louis have recently been guys such as Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty, along with perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina and third-base wizard Nolan Arenado.
But if 2020 first round pick Jordan Walker has anything to say about it, as the old guard exits, he expects his name to be mentioned as one of the Cardinals best players in 2023. Heading into spring training Walker looks ready to make the jump and infuse the Cardinals lineup with some real pop, youthful energy and an above-average glove.
Walker, MLB Pipeline’s No.4 rated prospect is coming off an impressive 2022 season with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. That’s where the sweet-swinging power hitter batted .306 with 68 RBI. Walker also went yard 19 times and accrued 20 stolen bases, nearly pulling off the very rare 20/20 campaign in the minors. For a player of Walker’s talent and skillset that was just the beginning.
Jordan Walker just made a very loud noise. #Cardinals pic.twitter.com/iB7O5aBLql
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) October 8, 2022
Walker Will Probably Switch To Outfield For Now
Just 20-years-old, Walker also showed out in Arizona Fall League, with a .286/ .367/ .558 slash line. That also included five homers and 16 more RBI in just 21 games. There Walker spent the bulk of his time in the outfield, as he will now transition away from third-base where he’s pretty much played his entire baseball life. But with perennial Gold Glove winner the aforementioned Arenado there, the likelihood of Walker playing would only happen in emergency situations or days off for Arenado.
📸 Cardinals OF legend Willie McGee, the 1985 MVP, teaches an outfield lesson to Jordan Walker and other #STLCards OFs here at spring training. pic.twitter.com/q7CuZf9lRt
— Benjamin Hochman (@hochman) February 15, 2023
Walker seems to be getting comfortable in the Cards outfield, and that’s vital considering Busch Stadium has one of the bigger outfields in the majors. During a recent visit to St. Louis for Winter Warm-Up, Walker told reporters this during his media session.
“I got a chance to get a real long look at the field of Busch Stadium, and it really is giving me the push. I’m ready,” said Walker. “I’m ready to get going. I’m ready to try to make the team. So just being here gives me a little extra drive to try to make the team and be ready to go to St. Louis.”
Walker’s Strength Is Power: He Has All The Tools
Standing a towering but well-proportioned 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, with long arms, Walker is an intimidating presence in the batter’s box. The only knock on Walker at the plate could be his elongated swing, something he may look to make more compact. But even if he doesn’t, his hand speed and eye coordination are good enough that he still gets the barrel of the bat to the baseball. Walker says “it’s all in the wrist.”
Cardinals top Prospect, Jordan Walker, is the biggest guy out here by far! #Cardinals @MLBPipeline pic.twitter.com/180Ga5dPgl
— Nick Diamond (@NDiamondMedia) February 22, 2023
If Walker’s trajectory is what most experts believe, by the age 23 he could be the best power hitter in the Cardinals organization and one of the best in all of MLB. Walker also says tough love sessions from Cardinals minor-league instructor Jose Oquendo has prepared him for this moment. He recently talked with reporters from the Cardinals spring training home in Jupiter, Florida
“A lot of work with Cheo’ (Oquendo) — route running, seeing low drives, working on my first-step quickness and stuff like that — has been really good for me,” Walker said. “In the offseason I took fly balls, but being here now with ‘Cheo’ and getting the tough-love treatment and teaching from him has really helped me. I’m ready to put what I’ve learned into a game.”
Expect to hear his name called often during the 2023 season and for years to come, Cardinals got a gem.
MLB hasn’t seen many Black third baseman. The last two of note were probably Charlie Hayes and 1987 NL MVP Terry Pendelton, considered the last great Black third baseman.
Pittsburgh Pirates star Ke’Bryan Hayes, Charlie’s son, is currently one of the rising third baseman in the game and already considered a Gold Glove caliber performer. It would be great to see two brothers holding down the hot corner like modern day Clete Boyers, for now, Walker will play anywhere he needs to play — even the outfield — to get on the field, gain MLB experience and flex his bro bombing stick.