St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Walker off to hot start at Palm Beach
By Matt Graves
The St. Louis Cardinals’ first-round pick from the 2020 draft is wasting no time getting going at the start of his pro career.
Since Randy Flores has taken over as the man leading the St. Louis Cardinals’ draft, who the team has gone after with their first pick has been tough to nail down. The 2020 draft was no different.
None of the major draft publications picked the Cardinals’ pick correctly, as they went out on a limb to take Jordan Walker with the 21st pick. Taking the high school third baseman at the end of the first round was viewed by some as a reach, but Walker’s combination of smarts and athleticism made him the perfect Cardinal pick.
Walker was included in the prospects sent to the Cardinals’ alternate training site during the 2020 season, but this was only a taste of professional baseball. The 6’5″ righty was assigned to Low-A Palm Beach to start the season and the 18-year-old has already drawn national attention to himself with his start there.
Through 34 at-bats, Walker is batting .382 with two homers and seven RBI, good for a 1.229 OPS. In a league where Walker is about 2.5 years younger than his competition, it sure doesn’t seem like he is overmatched out of the gate.
For those who question why max exit velocity matters, Baseball America’s JJ Cooper had this to follow up on his tweet above.
Walker’s power is part of what makes him so tantalizing as a prospect. The biggest dig against Walker was just that he was raw at the plate. While this is still probably true, he has 10 walks and just nine strikeouts right now which is fantastic to see.
Palm Beach is known as a strong pitcher’s park as is the rest of the league but nobody must’ve told Walker yet. On top of the two homers, he has three doubles and a triple again in just 10 games.
Unfortunately, there is very limited video out of Palm Beach, but the social media accounts do a fine job of showing highlights from the Cardinals’ lowest affiliate. Walker turns 19 on May 22 and is usually sharing the left side of the infield with the Cards’ second pick in 2020, Masynn Winn. Winn hasn’t started quite as hot, but there is no rush for either of them.
The St. Louis Cardinals have proven to be aggressive with their promotions of top prospects, specifically high school position players. Fans saw it with both Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman and now may see it again with Walker if he continues to dominate the league.
Again, any promotion won’t happen soon and there is zero rush but it is always fun to see recent draft picks get out of the gate on fire. Walker was already listed at the 92nd prospect in baseball prior to 2021 by Baseball Prospectus and if he keeps his performance up, he could find himself on more than just one top 100 prospects list.