Cardinal phenom Jordan Walker was ranked as the fourth best MLB prospect

ST. LOUIS — A valued contender appears poised to make his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals this season, and his arrival will be closely watched by much of the baseball world.

Jordan Walker enters the 2023 season not only as the top-ranked Cardinals nominee for the second straight year, but almost as the top-ranked player in all of Major League Baseball.

MLB Pipeline released its latest edition of the top 100 prospect rankings Thursday, naming Walker the fourth-best prospect in the league. Walker achieved the best MLB pipeline ranking for a Cardinals prospect since Oscar Taveras placed third overall in 2014.

The 2020 first-round pick follows on from an impressive 2022 campaign for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. He enjoyed a .306 batting average with 68 RBI and 100 runs scored last season while falling just a home run short of a rare 20/20 campaign in the minor leagues. His early returns are indeed promising from an attacking perspective.

Walker, still only 20, brought his talent to the Arizona Fall League just a few months ago and has once again put in strong numbers. He delivered a .286/.367/.558 slash with 5 home runs and 16 RBI over 21 games. Most notably, Walker saw a lot of action outfield as he prepared to transition from third base, a position he’s regularly occupied for most of his baseball life.

The Georgia native recently visited St. Louis for the winter warm-up and loved every minute of it.

“I had the chance to take a very close look at the field [of Busch Stadium], and it really gives me the boost. I’m ready,” Walker said. “I’m ready to go. I’m willing to try to make the team. Just being here gives me a little extra drive to try to make the team and be ready to go to St. Louis.

Only Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson, Arizona’s Corbin Carroll and the New York Mets’ Francisco Alavarez fared better than Walker in the latest MLB Pipeline rankings.

Five fun questions for Jordan Walker

Walker spoke to members of the media for almost 15 minutes during his winter warm-up session on January 16th. These were among the best answers and replies.

Question 1: “How is it in an off-season where you go to camp to potentially be a major league? What’s the pressure, the expectations, the workload that comes from Arizona? [Fall League]?”

JW: “Because we finished Arizona so late, it really hasn’t been revised. It was just a short break and then it started right up again. But it was good. I talked to him [fellow Cardinals prospect Mike] antico about it. We called and talked about what time we were going down and if we were going down early. We’re not really talking about the pressure. We don’t really focus on that, we just focus on having fun down there. I’m really looking forward to coming down and working. So I’m more looking forward to enjoying it than putting a lot of pressure on it.”

Question 2: “Obviously when you look at 2023 there are a lot of expectations that come with being number one [Cardinals] prospect, but there’s a significant chance you can make that list for opening day. How do you deal with expectations, both internally and externally?”

JW: “Honestly, I’m not too worried about it. I’m a bit of the ‘whatever happens, happens’ type. It’s really what I can control, things work out, it works out. … You just have to keep going, so it really isn’t too much to think about. It’s more that I’m not too much the type to worry about things like that.

Question 3: “People see the greatness [6-foot-5, 220 lbs] and think home run hitters, but last year there was only one month that you didn’t hit a .300. How proud are you of being a total hitter and not just some all-or-nothing guy for home runs?”

JW: “I want to be a complete player, so obviously not just being a power hitter means a lot to me. I generally want to be a hitter. When it gets difficult [I want] to put the ball in play and get to the base. So it means a lot to me to be a hitter and not just a power hitter and I also work a lot on my contact. I like to make the machine fast as it might need a bit of readjustment and try to put the racquet on the ball and poke it somewhere. To be honest, sometimes [I like to] Set the machine on a fastball in the middle so I can crush it! But I’m also working on being able to get another hit out sometimes when I feel a little hit on the plate. So [hitting is] very important for me.”

Question 4: “At what point in your progress did you look at the depth map, have a guy like Arenado there and think that [playing outfield] could be a future for you? And how has that developed over the last year?”

JW: “It was honestly always in the back of my mind with a really good, really talented guy like [Arenado]. Honestly, it can’t not be in the back of your mind. But it really wasn’t something I focused on. I was just trying to make the best of the situation I was in, doing my best and doing my best. When the switch came it felt pretty good to see there was a stain [the Cardinals] could want me And definitely everyone was smiling, it really wasn’t too much of a concern.”

Question 5 (asked by Joey Schneider): “What’s so exciting about the Cardinals’ offense with guys like Arenado, Goldschmidt and a lot of depth from top to bottom?”

JW: “It feels really good. Also the addition of Willson Contreras, I’ve seen what he’s done. He’s really, really good. Obviously Goldschmidt and Arenado are really, really talented players. I know growing up and watched her.” Actually, a lot of my coaching and fielding was at third base in high school compared to Arenado. They were pretty much like “Why can’t you do that?” and I’m like, ‘Coach, I’m about 15 years old!’ Having her in the lineup will be a real joy and I’m really excited to see what St. Louis can do this year.”

Other senior cardinals

Four other potential Cardinals, including several of Walker’s teammates from recent minor league campaigns, joined him in the top 100 rankings in the MLB pipeline. This contains…

  • Masyn Winn – SS (50th overall)
  • Tink Therefore – SP (77th overall)
  • Gordon Graceffo (79th overall)
  • Alec Burleson (91st overall)

For the full Top 100 MLB Pipeline rankings, Click here. Cardinal phenom Jordan Walker was ranked as the fourth best MLB prospect

Sarah Y. Kim

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