2023 MLB Fantasy: Should You Grab Cardinals Outfielder Jordan Walker?

Jordan Walker of the St. Louis Cardinals

After a little more than a month down in the Minors, Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker is set to return to St. Louis. But, should you look to target the toolsy 21-year-old outfielder? Let’s take a closer look at Walker’s 2023 season and our thoughts on the youngster.

Related: 2023 MLB Power Rankings: Who are the favorites for the NL MVP?

A Look at Walker

Despite the fact that Jordan Walker never played a game above AA before the start of 2023, the Cardinals had enough confidence in the former first-round pick to make the jump to the Majors after an impressive Spring Training.

The Cardinals included Walker on the team’s Opening Day lineup and his first few weeks in St. Louis went quite well. Walker began his career on a twelve-game hitting streak and slashed .319/.360/.489 with two home runs, four extra base hits, and 11 runs batted in for the Cards in that time. His numbers did drop a bit after that impressive streak, but he did manage to get at least one hit in four of the following seven games after that streak.

Because of that impressive start, it seemed a bit odd to see the Cardinals demote Walker back down to the Minors in late April. Granted, Walker’s fielding numbers — the 21-year-old posted a -2 Outs Above Average in right — were not impressive. But, the move down to Memphis did offer Walker, formerly a third baseman, the chance to get more comfortable in the outfield.

On a Memphis team with fellow prospects Masyn Winn, Luken Baker, and Ivan Herrera, Walker’s numbers were not impressive The 21-year-old hit just .239 with four home runs and ten extra base hits, although his on-base numbers were fine by and large.

Now, Walker will return to a Cardinals outfield that’s absent Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill and look to establish himself as a Major League permanently. But, should you take a chance at him?

2023 Fantasy Outlook

The callup of Walker came at a good time for a large swath of fantasy players. A number of high-profile outfielders have went on the IL over the past week. Fantasy superstar Cedric Mullins went down to a groin strain, while a stress fracture sidelined breakout performer Riley Greene. Kris Bryant and Harrison Bader also went on the injured list this week.

Walker’s power is intriguing in itself, as the 21-year-old displayed an excellent ability to drive the ball while in the Minors. It’s yet to be seen, however, how much that power will translate in home runs.

Quite a few of Walker’s hits thus far in 2023 came on pitches in the middle in the zone and away, and he tended to drive those balls straight into center with a smooth two-handed swing — one very reminiscent of Giants outfielder Michael Conforto — with not much of an uppercut.

While he did get a hold and pulled a couple of balls for homers early on, early signs point to Walker being more of a base hit machine with anywhere from 15-20 home run potential and 25 as a projected high point — unless Walker does decide to tinker with his approach at the plate.

Walker can definitely provide value for fantasy players. We’ll see, however, whether Walker can build on the successes he had early in March and April. If you’re in need of an outfielder, he’s worth the stash.

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