Third Base Prospect Spotlight: Jordan Walker
Welcome to a continuation of our new Prospect Spotlight series, where we pair our prospect rankings with a deep dive on one of the players in that ranking. Here, we’ll dive deeper into the prospect’s fantasy profile, highlighting their background, skill set, and what we see for them coming down the pipeline. Prospects are the lifeblood of any dynasty league and we hope to bring you more great info on these rising stars in 2021 than ever before.
A right-handed hitter taken twenty-first overall by the Cardinals despite being a verbal commit to Duke, he did sign for $2.9M which was $230,000 less than the slot value for the pick. He’s known as a good kid, and smart, which should be no surprise as his parents attended MIT and Harvard. The first thing that stands out is his size, at 6’5” and 220 lbs at only 18 years of age (born May 22, 2002). He’s quite athletic for a big guy and moves around the field very well, though there could still be some physical maturity and possibly some more growth to come.
Walker stands tall and quiet in the box, then raising his front foot and bringing his hands to shoulder level as the pitch is released. His weight shifts forward, his foot landing in plenty of time to bring the hips, shoulders, and bat head through the zone. He attacks the ball with a late whip through the zone and above-average bat speed, and the bat path is fluid through the swing motion. Jordan appears more comfortable with the ball belt high and up, needing to make swing adjustments to balls down in the zone, fouling a lot of balls off, or even pounding some into the dirt. While he has the ability to hit the ball the other way, his swing and focus are towards hitting the ball hard pull side to straight away. His long limbs likely mean an average hit tool but he is well coordinated so there’s at least modest hope for improvement.
Walker already has some swing and miss in his game, which is not exactly desirable out of high school. He’s quick to swing at strikes, but he’s also shown the ability to draw walks as well. High school pitching command is unreliable at best, so it’s difficult to say if Walker was laying off shadow pitches, or balls that just got away when he walked. Between his big body, hit tool, and approach, it’s likely there will always be a high strikeout rate, but hopefully, he can offset that with enough walks to at least become a three true outcome hitter.
As you might have guessed, Jordan’s power is his carrying tool and calling card. His broad shoulders, quick bat, and power-based swing show 70-grade raw power. He was clocked by Perfect Game with a max exit velocity of 100 MPH shortly after turning 17 years old, which should only go up as he matures. He is focused to pull side, and up the middle, driving high fly balls and ropes out in both directions. His power the other way is still a work in progress, but that’s probably more a flaw in the hit tool, then is it a reflection of his strength.
Walker’s hand usage and core strength allow him to drive balls on the inner third of the plate as well, so many hitters with a big frame are only wanting to extend their arms to maximize drives. It will be important as he’s admittedly looking fastball as his favorite pitch to hit, and many pitchers will work two-seamers in on the hands of right-handed hitters.
The power is evident for Walker, but how much of his raw power he’s able to tap into will depend largely on how he maximizes his hit tool.
Considering his build, Walker is quite fast, running 6.56 60-yard dash, and 1.61 10-yard split according to Perfect Game. He’s quick to get moving and has at least at for the time being the athletic ability to steal bags. Jordan has a power first profile, but I could see low double-digit stolen bases if the team allows him to run and if he’s able to maintain his athleticism into his twenties.
His long-term defensive home has a lot of variables right now. He has good movement, a plus arm, and the hands to stay at third base, even if he only becomes an average defender there. Depending on how his body matures he might become a better fit at a corner outfield spot or even 1B. Sometimes a player’s defensive home is determined by where an opening exists when his bat forces management to promote him, which could be the case for Walker. The good news is he has the power to play anywhere, and the athletic ability and arm to learn the four spots mentioned.
There’s some projection in Walker’s game to be sure, but he is blessed with an outstanding mix of size and athleticism. His raw power is something that will stand out to fantasy owners and will probably get some owners in your leagues drooling, maybe even over-drafting him. I think it’s important to be realistic about expectations due to some adjustments needed to the hit tool, but there’s upside in the bat to be certain. This type of profile can be a roller coaster for dynasty owners, as there should be highs and lows as Walker works his way up the system. Sometimes the strikeouts will and up and seem insurmountable, but then an adjustment allows him to tap back into that power, and he looks like a stud again. Walker will be a fun player to watch mature, just keep it all in mind before you pull the trigger in your dynasty supplemental drafts.