It feels like an eternity has gone by since the Cardinals were receiving heat for sending Jordan Walker down to Triple-A Memphis. While we can nitpick different parts of that fiasco, it's clear that the adjustments that Walker was able to make to his swing are paying major dividends now.
Before Walker's demotion, he had a historic 12-game hit streak to open up his career, but his over 60% groundball rate was limiting his ability to do the damage that the Cardinals, and many fans, expected from him coming into the season. At the end of April, the Cardinals demoted Walker, citing the ability for him to work on his swing more diligently at the Triple-A level.
Upon his return to St. Louis in June, it was clear that Walker was a more confident and polished hitter. Aram Leighton recently did a deep dive into the adjustments Walker has made, and this footage he posted recently does a good job of showing the visible changes.
In his full article on Justbaseball.com, Leighton points to some simple adjustments Walker has made to his setup and load that have helped him become smoother with his barrel, not rushing to pull the ball and ultimately push it to the ground, but rather letting his bat stay in the zone longer so his load and drive the ball higher and farther.
I've heard a lot of people complain about launch angle this season, but if you look at the numbers, it's pretty clear that Walker has taken major strides as a hitter since the changes were made.
Before demotion (20 G)
.274/.321/.397 (98 wRC+), 2 HR, 11 RBI, 3.8 BB%, 25.6 K%, 60.4 GB%
After rejoining St. Louis (92 G)
.277/.351/.458 (122 wRC+), 14 HR, 37 RBI, 9.3 BB%, 22.7 K%, 44.3 GB%
I'm sure some of this improvement had to do with just having more time and plate appearances in St. Louis, but every player has to make adjustments during their career as they progress and pitchers find their weaknesses. Walker was a fine hitter before he made those changes, now he's a guy who will look to be one of the Cardinals' best bats in 2024.
It's always good to remember with young players that their development does not end when they reach St. Louis, and it's not a bad thing if a guy needs another stint in Memphis to work out some kinks. Walker will be a better player long-term because of this, and the Cardinals will be happy to see him continue to progress in the coming years.