Rising St. Louis Cardinals phenom Jordan Walker is putting on a show in Springfield and could warrant another promotion.
The 2020 draft is shaping up to be quite the haul for the St. Louis Cardinals, and no star is shining brighter than Jordan Walker. He currently sports a .310 batting average and a .915 OPS. He has risen quickly to Double-A, a level where he is over four years younger than the average player. In August, Walker has flourished even more, batting .340 with three home runs.
If Walker keeps hitting this way, he should force his way up to Triple-A soon, perhaps before the season is over. He recently started playing in the outfield, undoubtedly preparing for a role in St. Louis in the next year or two.
Walker has shown top-of-the-line exit velocities and hit two home runs in a game on Aug. 18, the fourth time he’s done that this season. While a promotion to Triple-A in the near future is likely, don’t bet on Walker appearing the major leagues this year. I wouldn’t think he’d arrive until the second half of 2023 at the earliest, even if he is ready. Isn’t service-time manipulation great?
The Cardinals will need to clear a spot in the outfield for him or let him be the designated hitter. Assuming Corey Dickerson isn’t re-signed, Walker will probably only battle Juan Yepez for at-bats in the DH spot. Lars Nootbaar probably has the most tentative hold on a starting outfield spot right now, and I could see him being yanked for Walker at times. This is assuming Nootbaar, Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson are still with the team in 2024, when Walker will likely claim a starting job.
Walker is going to find a place on the roster; it’s only a matter of when and whom he replaces. He’s probably the Cardinals’ best and most hyped prospect since Alex Reyes and the biggest minor league threat with the bat since Oscar Taveras. There’s reason to be very excited about the young slugger. If it weren’t for that dastardly service-time loophole, he’d probably make the team out of 2023 Spring Training. As it is, we’ll have to be patient. The reward could be worth it.