A number of notable youngsters have seized the spotlight thus far in Spring Training, and Cardinals star prospect Jordan Walker is no exception. The top draft pick for the Cardinals in 2020, Walker has done very well for himself this spring — and he’s making a convincing case to be on St. Louis’ Opening Day roster.
A Look at Walker
So far, Cardinals INF/OF Jordan Walker has made the most of his time this spring. Through Walker’s first seven Spring Training games, Walker has hit .429/.429/1.000 with three home runs, six extra base hits, and six RBIs. Walker’s 1.429 OPS is the highest among qualified hitters, about 54 points better than Dodgers prospect James Outman, who sits in second.
A career .310/.388/.525 hitter at the plate, Walker possesses strong bat-to-ball skills to go along with very solid raw power. These two home runs hit early in the spring are proof of the latter:
Not to mention, the 2020 first-round pick has proven to be a threat on the bags as well thanks to impressive speed. Walker has stolen a combined 36 bases over his first two pro seasons.
Walker has been a third baseman throughout most of his Minor League career. But with Nolan Arenado firmly entrenched at the hot corner in St. Louis, Walker’s set to move to the outfield. Walker does own good athleticism, which should allow him to transition into a corner outfield spot rather easily. This spring, Walker has played six games in left and one at third base.
What it Means
While Walker — who spent all of last season in Springfield (AA) — should make it up to the Majors for the first time at some point in the 2023 campaign, it’s tough to tell whether that happens in late March. St. Louis does have plenty of existing depth in the outifield, as Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, and Lars Nootbaar all back for 2023. While Carlson and O’Neill didn’t perform as well in 2022 as compared to the year prior, both are still important pieces in the St. Louis outfield. Nootbaar, meanwhile, demonstrated good pop when in the starting lineup. The young right fielder hit 14 home runs and 33 extra base hits in 108 games (347 PA) last year.
Additionally, prospect Alec Burleson and super-utility man Brendan Donovan are also possibilities for the St. Louis outfield. Simply put, the Cardinals have options. There’s no reason — nor a need at this point — to rush Walker into the Majors. But, he’s making a strong case to force the Cardinals’ hands this spring.