Cardinals Decide Jordan Walker’s Time Is Now

Image credit: Jordan Walker (Getty Images)

The Cardinals have announced that Jordan Walker, Baseball America’s No. 4 prospect in the game, will be on the Opening Day roster.

Walker is hitting .286/.308/.508 this spring for the Cardinals with three home runs and five doubles. He will make his MLB debut before his 21st birthday, and will do so having skipped over Triple-A Memphis.

Here’s the moment when Walker found out the news.

Walker’s speedy ascent to the majors is also a tribute to the acumen of Walker’s signing scout. Charles Peterson was the Cardinals’ area scout who signed Walker in 2020. Just a few months later, Peterson passed away due to the coronavirus.

Here’s what we wrote when making Walker the Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect during the offseason.

BA Grade/Risk: 70/High

Track Record: As a rising high school senior, Walker was viewed as one of the best power hitters in the 2020 prep class, but he struggled with swing-and-miss on the summer showcase circuit. He rectified the issue and showed improved bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline for Decatur (Ga.) High prior to the 2020 coronavirus shutdown. The Cardinals selected Walker with the 21st overall pick that June and signed him for $2.9 million. Walker debuted with Low-A Palm Beach in 2021 and moved quickly to High-A Peoria after he put up a 1.162 OPS in 27 games. He spent 55 games in the Midwest League and hit .292/.344/.487 as one of the youngest players at the level. In 2022, Walker moved to Double-A Springfield, where he was the youngest position player at the classification to start the season. Walker responded with another standout campaign and hit .306/.388/.510 with 31 doubles and 19 home runs. Late in the season, the Cardinals moved Walker from third base to right field, where he projects to settle.

Scouting Report: Walker has a tall, well-conditioned frame that projects strength and athleticism. He balances both power and contact at the plate. His longer levers lead to swing-and-miss, but he balances it with a simple, powerful swing and good tracking skills. Despite a longer swing path, Walker shows the ability to hit a variety of pitch shapes and locations. His best contact comes on the outer half of the plate, where he can extend his arms and drive balls to all fields. He’s an aggressive hitter who likes to swing. While this approach can often lead to strikeouts, Walker’s innate bat-to-ball skills and strength allow him to overcome his aggressive tendencies. The length of his levers and bat path help him cover the whole plate, while also allowing him to barrel pitches in the outside shadow zone. Walker’s double-plus raw power flashes in games and is backed by standout exit velocity numbers. During the 2022 season, 45% of Walker’s balls in play were hit at 95 mph or harder, and his 114.6 mph max exit velocity was in the 99th percentile among players 21 years or younger. Walker is an above-average runner and capable basestealer who has had a high success rate on stolen base attempts in the minor leagues. His speed comes from long, powerful strides that allow him to run the bases and roam the outfield at an above-average rate. In this way, Walker is equipped for his move to the outfield. He possesses a plus arm capable of making all the throws from a corner-outfield position. He profiles best in right field, but has seen some time in center field as well.

The Future: Few players flash upside as immense as Walker’s. He should see a majority of his time in 2022 in the major leagues. Equipped with plus power and average or better plate skills, Walker could develop into a perennial all-star.

Scouting Grades: Hitting: 50. Power: 70. Run: 55. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60

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