Black MiLB Players #13: Jordan Walker
Background + Path to Professional Baseball
Jordan Walker is a nineteen-year-old third baseman in the St. Louis Cardinals organization from Atlanta, Georgia. He was selected in the 1st round(21st overall) of the 2020 MLB Draft out of Decatur High School, where he was one of the best high school baseball players in the entire country. He has a history of performance as one of the best players in his age group, building an extensive track record in travel ball tournaments while he was in high school. He was deemed the 2019–2020 Gatorade Player of the Year for high school baseball players from Georgia. He had a commitment to Duke University with a full scholarship that he forewent after agreeing to a professional contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, receiving a 2.9 million dollar signing bonus. Lauded for his intelligence and makeup off the field, he comes from a family with academic prowess as both of his parents are Harvard graduates.
He impressed pundits with the above-average contact ability, massive raw power, and respectable vision he showed versus what seems to always be a plethora of good high school pitchers coming out of Georgia during his high school career. His defense at third base was rated anywhere from below average to above-average. The athleticism he possesses impressed scouts as he is 6'5'’, weighs 220 pounds, and is still developing physically. Walker was viewed as the best high school third baseman/corner infielder in his draft class and was projected to go in the first round by almost all respected sources on the MLB Draft.
Jordan Walker’s professional career began at the St. Louis alternate site due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He impressed members of the organization on the coaching staff and in front office roles with massive home runs and athleticism you don’t see in most people that are 6'5'’. His first stint with an affiliate began the next year, where he played for the St. Louis Low-A affiliate Palm Beach Cardinals in the Low-A Southeast League. At the beginning of the 2021 MiLB season, he was the 9th youngest player on an active roster in all three Low-A leagues.
In 27 games, .374/.475/.687 was the slash line Walker put up to go with a 17% strikeout rate, 14% walk rate, and .313 ISO. He hit 11 doubles, one triple, and six home runs for a total of 18 extra-base hits, hitting 19 singles during that same time frame. After torturing opposing pitchers to the tune of a 205 wRC+, the teenage hot corner wunderkid was promoted to the St. Louis High-A affiliate, where he played 55 games. During his 55 games, he put up a .292/.344/.487 slash line with a 27% strikeout rate and a 6% walk rate, hitting 14 doubles, 3 triples, and eight home runs. He also stole 13 bases while only getting caught twice.
Jordan Walker is a third baseman that is 6'5'’, weighs 220 pounds. He bats and throws right-handed. He has a long, athletic frame, being built like your stereotypical shooting guard. He already has plenty of muscle definition, and still has room to add a lot more.
He has a simple right-handed swing with very quiet mechanics all the way through besides a pronounced leg kick. He starts with his hands held near his ear before moving his hands into position and stepping into his swing. The corner infielder rotates well in the batter’s box and keeps his bat in the zone for a long time, having enough touch to control the bat competently. Despite having long arms, he frequently gets the bat head out in front and is on time, which are signs of excellent anticipation. It is also a sign that the lanky hot corner dweller has sound swing mechanics. The nineteen-year-old possesses a 93 miles per hour average exit velocity and a max exit velocity of 116 mph. In layman’s terms, every time Walker swings a bat he almost tears through the fabric of space and time with a blunt piece of wood.
He has an all fields approach that is groundball-heavy, although he still finds success because he torches the ball whenever he makes contact. His groundball % dropping by thirteen percentage points after he was promoted is an encouraging sign that he is trying to tap into his massive raw power more frequently to drive the ball even more. The extremely high BABIPs he has posted so far in his career are signs of future success also and correlate with the exit velocities that he can reach when he makes contact.
He is not going to clog up the base paths but isn’t going to remind you of jumbo Lou Brock either. He moves very well for someone his size, especially when underway. He will probably slow down as he matures and gains more muscle, so do not expect much value to be contributed as a baserunner.
A mediocre defender at third due to his large size and still growing, there’s little chance Walker is a full-time third baseman despite having all the tools necessary to do so. With a massive throwing arm and athleticism to go with it, he can split time between the corner outfield spots and third base. It would add versatility to his profile, to go along with the fact that two valuable assets in his profile are being utilized.
Jordan Walker offers a massive ceiling due to the current quality of contact he is able to consistently reach, and what that could lead to down the line if he finds a way to lift the ball without spiking his strikeout rate. While he has the athleticism and arm to play third base, an impending gain in muscle and even height might move the 6'5'’ slugger off of his original position. Even so, regardless of this phenom’s value lies in his bat, and he has shown that he can provide value whenever he swings.