Latest prospect rankings suggest Jordan Walker still needs work

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Wednesday

St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, left, and prospect Jordan Walker speak between practices Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at the Cardinals spring training complex in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by David Carson, [email protected]

David Carson

Independent analysts agree Cardinal’s outfield prospect Jordan Walker has 40 homer potential. This assessment is unanimous.

Exit speed doesn’t lie. The young man hits the ball hard. And his rapid rise through the minors at a young age speaks to his willingness to work and adaptability.

But two of the prominent candidate rankings placed Walker a notch below other ratings. FanGraphs just released their prospects ranking and the number crunchers there gave Cardinals outfielder Walker a 12th in total.

Coupled with’s ranking of Walker at No. 14, these are the differing opinions about the young thug. Experts from five other outlets ranked Walker among the top six prospects in baseball.

There’s still a lot of buzz surrounding Walker as he makes his first attempt at making the big league roster, but independent analysts note he still needs work on his starting angle and ability to hit sliders.

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ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel explained the ranking:

Walker does a good but not great job lifting the ball in games, his pursuit rate is decent too, and he swings more often than the average minor league. Those aren’t huge concerns right now, though, as he has tremendous power in games, is young and talented enough to make adjustments, and is a lot younger than the pitchers he faces. But you have to be picky at this point in the list.

I mention (Pete) Alonso as a comp because he also has an easy, low-maintenance swing and tremendous power that he regularly achieves in games. Walker could hit 40+ homers multiple times, but as mentioned above, a few subtle adjustments are needed. It’s a real shot that he’s torching spring training, continuing ahead of schedule and securing a spot in the big league lineup sooner or later in 2023, which makes me look a bit silly for backing up.

FanGraphs offered this assessment:

He’s one of the most exciting young hitters in the minors, with elite power potential and outstanding performance on paper at Double-A in 2022 while still not old enough to have a beer. Any discussion of Walker begins with his exit speeds, which are almost unheard of for such a young player. He has an easy, well-levered swing that capitalizes on his power, and the long levers that come with his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame produce mind-blowing home runs when he’s really taking a seat. His approach is solid, although there is some trouble chasing broken balls, and his swing-and-miss in the zone was pretty subpar in 2022 (he swings in a lot of sliders), but we’re talking a 20-year-old at Double-A here. If you’re looking for the prospect of hitting your closest 40 homers in a season, this is your player. scribe RJ Anderson offered this assessment after placing Walker #6:

Walker has immense power, resulting in the kind of raw power that could make him a prototypical mid-range brawler. To fully capitalize on that pop, scouts expect he’ll need to continue learning to lift the ball more often — more than 45 percent of his balls batted last season were grounders. (A point in his favor is that most reviewers believe it’s easier to train launch angle than exit velocity.) There was always a chance that Walker would grow out of the hot corner, and the Cardinals have already started training him to train in the field. No matter what position Walker ends up playing, his racquet will be the main attraction. It’s conceivable that sometime in 2023, he’ll become the Cardinals’ newest young hitter to hit regularly.


Here’s where major outlets rank the top Cardinals youngsters:

  • ESPN: #27
  • Baseball Prospectus: No. 30
  • #33
  • The Athlete: No. 46
  • FanGraphs: #44
  • Baseball America: No. 48
  • #50
  • Baseball Prospectus: No. 43
  • #45
  • Baseball America: No. 47
  • ESPN: #61
  • The Athlete: No. 63
  • FanGraphs: N0. 74
  • #77
  • Baseball Prospectus: No. 58
  • The Athlete: No. 66
  • FanGraphs: #69
  • #79
  • ESPN: #81

Also notable were Matthew Liberatore (Baseball America, #79), Ivan Herrera (ESPN, #89) and Alec Burleson ( #91).

Here’s what people have written about our national pastime:

David Schoenfeld, “My favorite Sleeper Burst candidate, (Lars) Nootbaar, reworked his swing ahead of 2022 and had impressive underlying metrics in 2022: 80th percentile in hard hit rate, 98th percentile in walk rate, and an above-average strikeout Rate. So he hits the ball hard and has elite discipline. That will work. Oh, he also has a strong arm and above average speed. He’s vacillated between Triple-A and the Majors for the first few months of 2022, but as a regular on the lineup, he’s hit .252/.374/.514 in his last 257 plate appearances. The Cardinals have a crowded outfield competition, but Nootbaar should start the season in the right field – despite Jordan Walker – and I’m predicting big results.

Bob Nightingale, US today: “San Diego Padres chairman Peter Seidler reads the complaints of his co-owners. He overhears Commissioner Rob Manfred openly questioning the Padres’ ability to sustain their success. He listens as MLB says the Padres have gone insane with their $250 million payroll, the third largest in baseball, with astronomical losses that could bankrupt them financially. And you know what? He didn’t care at all. “We’re here to win a title,” Seidler said flatly on Tuesday at his first meeting with reporters since the winter meetings in December. “I expect that.” So let everyone else whine and complain. Have the small and medium teams tell the Padres they make them look bad with their exorbitant payroll. Have the commissioner’s office scratching their heads and wondering how on earth they can keep such a large payroll without everything collapsing and collapsing.”

Jay Jaffe, FanGraphs: “From a performance standpoint, perhaps (Manny) Machado wishes he could test free hand now because it’s hard to imagine him having more impact a year from now. He’s coming off a season in which he hit .298/.366/.531, setting season-wide batting average and wRC+ records while just one point off his peak in on-base percentage. His fWAR surpassed his previous high of 7.0 set in 2018, although his 6.8 bWAR took a backseat to his 2015 and 16 totals (7.5 and 7.3, respectively). He capped his season by hitting .271/.327/.583 with four home runs and adding excellent defense in the postseason as the Padres beat the Mets with 101 wins and the Dodgers with 111 wins. . . In terms of timing, however, next year’s free agent market looks awfully thin beyond Shohei Ohtani. Machado would almost certainly be the best positional player available, although Matt Chapman could be a cheaper alternative in the hot corner.

“No one cares if I make money or not. If my legacy is that I didn’t lose any money owning a baseball team on an annual basis, that’s a pretty sad legacy. It’s about putting trophies in the suitcases.”

Phillies owner John Middleton.

St. Louis Cardinals top pick Jordan Walker speaks to about his move to the outfield, the players he hangs out with in Florida, and his spring training goals.

Benjamin Hochman


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