Fresh out of high school, it only took Jordan Walker 27 games at Single-A Palm Beach last summer before convincing the Cardinals he was ready for his next challenge. A little less than a year later, Walker is already through that number of games two levels up, at Double-A Springfield.
And if he keeps hitting like he hit Friday night, he may not be there very much longer, either.
The Cardinals’ top prospect continued his torrid May breakout Friday, homering and driving in four in Springfield’s 12-8 win over Amarillo at Hammons Field. Punching an opposite-field double in the first and pulling a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fourth, Walker paced Springfield’s 11-hit attack behind No. 27 righty Connor Lunn and four relievers. D-backs No. 2 prospect (No. 19 overall) Corbin Carroll also homered for the Sod Poodles in a losing effort, launching his 10th of the year off Lunn in the third inning.
The star, though, was Walker. Through 28 games at Double-A, the 19-year-old is hitting .327 with three homers, 10 steals and a .943 OPS. He will turn 20 on May 22.
In short, it’s been an incredibly smooth transition to the upper Minors for the precocious Walker, the 21st pick in the 2020 Draft and the game’s 29th overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The 6-foot-5 masher was already one of the game’s most touted corner infielder prospects entering the year, after hitting .317/.388/.548 across two Single-A stops and posting elite exit velocity readings in his first Minor League season. He then got off to a solid start at Springfield but really caught fire in May, slashing .342/.449/.711 with nine extra-base hits and three steals in 13 games this month.
Perhaps most impressive? His 17/28 walk-to-strikeout ratio so far at Double-A, a vast improvement over his 33-87 mark from a year ago, against lower-level pitching.