“I’m Ready To Try And Make The Team” | St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospect Jordan Walker Is Playing For Keeps This Spring

“I’m Ready To Try And Make The Team” | St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospect Jordan Walker Is Playing For Keeps This Spring

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.

 

 

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. 

 

 

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.”

 

 

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.

Making History

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.

Ke’Bryan Hayes Was On Fire Against The Cincinnati Reds | The Web Wizard Was Bro Bombing

Ke’Bryan Hayes Was On Fire Against The Cincinnati Reds | The Web Wizard Was Bro Bombing

Pittsburgh Pirates star Ke’Bryan Hayes had an impressive series against the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh had no problem taking care of the Reds in the three games, winning each game by three or more runs. And Hayes played a big part in helping the Pirates defeat the Reds. He went 7-for-14 at the plate with a home run and two RBI. This was the first time this season that he had a multi-hit performance in each game of the series.

 

 

Hayes was a problem at the plate and the Reds had no answer for him. In the first two games of the series, he finished with two hits and in the series finale he had a three-hit performance. It’s not everyday you see a player catch fire like that in a series. But that’s a taste of how talented Hayes is and how much of an impact he makes on the field.

After the Cincinnati series, Hayes was hitting .250 with seven home runs and 38 RBI on the season. A lot of eyes have been on Hayes, especially after he secured the bag at the beginning of the season.

 

MLBbro Ke’Bryan Hayes Gets The Biggest Bag In Pittsburgh Pirates History | The Franchise Cornerstone Has Security

 

But for the most part, Hayes has had a solid year in Pittsburgh. As the franchise surrounds him with more talent, we will see his game explode. He recently spent some time on the injured list. His health has been a problem during his first couple of years in the league as well. The Pirates placed him on the IL back on August 13th due to a mid-back muscle strain. Hayes missed a little over a week and returned to the lineup back on August 23rd.

“Any time you’re over there on the [injured list] and you’re watching your team go to battle each and every night, you want to be out there to try to help do your part to help get wins,” Hayes said in an article from mlb.com when he returned to the lineup. “So [I’m] just looking forward to being back and not trying to do too much, just try to be me, and hopefully I can help us get some wins.”

So far, Hayes is having a strong September, hitting over .300, and he’ll look to stay in his zone and finish the season strong and with optimism for a better 2023 for himself and his young team. The future is bright in Pittsburgh, especially with Hayes leading the way. He’s a bro that will continue to increase his stock throughout his career.

Ke’Bryan Hayes Is Looking Gold Glove Special At the Hot Corner For The Bucs

Ke’Bryan Hayes Is Looking Gold Glove Special At the Hot Corner For The Bucs

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes has had an impressive season and is establishing himself as an elite player. The 25-year-old is already a top player on his team, and he’s shown that he can make an impact at the plate and in the field.

This brother can certainly flash some leather out there and he makes it look easy too. Through 82 games at third base, Hayes has a .970 fielding percentage with eight errors. Despite having eight errors, Hayes leads all infielders in one category.

According to the SABR defensive index, our MLBbro was at 7.7 when the last figures were released on June 19. That’s the highest among any player in the league.

For those who may not know, the SABR defensive index is a metric that is widely used to determine Gold and Platinum Glove winners.

They look at two different types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts.

 

Ke’Bryan Hayes Is The Future Of The Pittsburgh Pirates Franchise

 

Hayes is in the driver seat right now and has a chance to take home his first Gold Glove Award. Now there is a lot of season left, but for Hayes to be at the top of that list, speaks volumes to the type of player he is on the field.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton knows that Hayes is a special talent at third base.

“There are sometimes situations where guys are gonna get errors because they’re really good,” he said in an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That sounds screwed up, but it’s because you get to more balls, whereas guys who don’t move as well might not make as many errors just because they don’t have as many chances.

“The other thing we see with Key is he makes a lot of really, really tough plays look easy, stuff you take for granted.”

For Hayes, he just wants to go out there and make the plays that he can and put his team in positions to win games.

“It’s kind of like batting average,” he said. “You can’t look at that every week. It’ll beat you up if you do. Just try to go out there and play to the best of my abilities. At the end of the year, that’s when I look at that stuff.”

 

With technology becoming so advanced, there are many ways to track different metrics in all of sports, allowing people to break down players even more.

“I think that’s why the advanced metrics are so important because we can see that he makes a lot of plays other people don’t make,” Shelton said. “A couple of his errors have been on balls that just took bad hops. He got caught in between. I think that’s why being able to gauge defense moving forward is so important.”

It will be interesting to see how things play out with Hayes and if he will still be in the running to win a Gold Glove once September is through. With how he’s been playing so far this season, the brother definitely deserves it.

MLBbro Superstar Alert!! Ke’Bryan Hayes Keeps The Lights On In The Pit

MLBbro Superstar Alert!! Ke’Bryan Hayes Keeps The Lights On In The Pit

Ke’Bryan Hayes is this generation’s next great third baseman and is earning the title of highest-paid player in Pittsburgh Pirates’ franchise history with his play through the first month and a half of the season.  

 

MLBbro Ke’Bryan Hayes Gets The Biggest Bag In Pittsburgh Pirates History | The Franchise Cornerstone Has Security

 

The hitting numbers Hayes is posting has positioned him to be the representative for Pittsburgh at this season’s All-Star Game, which would be quite an accomplishment in just his second Major League season. The son of MLBbro player Charlie Hayes would join Josh Bell and Andrew McCutchen as recent Black Pirates to obtain the honor.

 

 

Entering Sunday’s game, Hayes ranks in the top five for the National League in batting average, on base percentage and Offensive WAR. This coming after Hayes’ 2021 season was filled with injuries from the first game of the year till his last. After the second game of the season, Hayes felt a pain in his left wrist that made it difficult to grip the bat, leading to him being placed on the 60-day Injured List.

He returned to the Pirates’ lineup at the beginning of June but near the end of the season, injury struck again, leading to him being shut down in late September.

 

Don’t Even Watch Pirates Games For The Next 10 Days…Ke’Bryan Hayes Is Hurt

 

“I had to grind through it,” Hayes told reporters at the beginning of this year’s spring training. “Going into the offseason, I really wanted to forget about it and make sure that going into this next season my body is healthy for this spring training.  I’m doing good, the wrist is feeling good, so I’m ready to get rolling.”

Hayes’ bank account was one thing injuries couldn’t keep down. Not even a week into the season Pittsburgh made the 25-year-old out of Tomball, Texas the highest-paid player in their franchise history with an eight-year $70 million deal with a club option for 2030.

If Hayes can stay healthy, the deal will prove to be a bargain for the Pirates.

He did scare fans during the team’s Opening Day game this season when the third baseman appeared to re-injure that same wrist that plagued him last year in the first inning and was forced out of the game. But it was just a scare, and he didn’t miss any time from it.

Glove Love 

The one phase of Hayes’ game that may be the least surprising this season has been his play on defense.  

 

 

The three-time Minor League Gold Glove award winner currently leads all Major League third baseman in Defensive WAR and putouts by a comfortable margin.

Bat Attack 

At the plate Hayes is batting .309 with an on base percentage above .400 and a .799 OPS to go along with eight RBI and three stolen bases.

 

 

He already has seven games this season with at least two hits, a 4-for-4 game and had two consecutive 3-for-5 games, one against the Cincinnati Reds and the other coming against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pirates Playoff Push? 

Hayes has his Pirates’ record closer to the .500 mark than most thought they would be.  They are a young team with players who will continue to flow to the Bigs over the next few years, but it looks like Pittsburgh has already found they can put the franchise on Hayes’ back as they work towards getting back into the playoffs for the first time since 2015.