The St. Louis Cardinals’ first pick of the 2020 MLB Draft, Jordan Walker, has been named Low-A player of the week.
If you haven’t learned Jordan Walker’s name yet, you probably should take the time to commit it to memory. The St. Louis Cardinals‘ first pick in the 2020 draft has all the makings of a player you will see in St. Louis by the time he’s done playing professional baseball.
Drafted 21st overall out of High School, third baseman Jordan Walker was not projected to be a first-rounder in the MLB’s final mock draft, but fits exactly the type of player that the Cardinals have shown they love to go after: athletic, intelligent, and projectable.
The trend of going after higher-ceiling picks really took off when scouting director Randy Flores took Nolan Gorman in 2018, but higher ceilings come with lower floors. Most fans remember in 2018 when Gorman smashed 17 homers in just 63 games. From there, he found his way onto top 100 prospects lists and hasn’t left since.
In Walker’s case, he might be following a similar path.
Of course, Walker’s start in professional baseball was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic ruining a year of minor league play. Now 19, he and the team’s second pick in 2020, Masyn Winn are both at Low-A Palm Beach and are both making waves already.
Walker started the year hot, then injured his wrist after 13 games. In eight games since he has returned, he has picked up right where he left off and this week, he earned the Low-A Southeast player of the week award.
Walker’s three homers this week now put him at five through 21 career games. This pace is right with Nolan Gorman’s pace from 2018, but Walker is doing it in a much better way as far as his approach goes.
When Gorman was playing in 2019, he did his damage at the Rookie ball then at Low-A. While he was hitting homers, he was also striking out a lot, especially when he was promoted. A 22.2% strikeout rate is good for an 18-year-old in Rookie ball, but Gorman’s 36.4% rate at then Low-A Peoria was concerning.
While Gorman is looking like he’s improved his approach at the plate at AA enough to put some of those strikeout concerns behind him, Walker doesn’t have any in the first place. Though it has only been 96 plate appearances, Walker is only striking out 16.7% of the time. Adding onto that, he is walking…16.7% of the time. Here is Walker taking a ball out to center this week.
Another important note, Walker is showing this power in a league that was formerly known as an extreme pitchers’ league. Everything has been jumbled because of the MLB’s restructuring of the Minors, but the former High-A Florida State League is essentially the same group of ballparks that is now Low-A Southeast. In 2019, when Gorman went from Peoria to Palm Beach, His ISO dropped from .207 to .172. Walker’s ISO right now is .320…
At some point this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Walker moved up to Peoria, even if it’s late in the summer. Right now, Walker is 19 at Low-A and is making waves, let the waves roll.