The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Saturday that outfielder Jordan Walker has made the Opening Day roster. The 20-year-old rookie will, as a result, make his big-league debut without first playing in a single Triple-A game.
CBS Sports recently ranked Walker as the sixth best prospect in the minors. He's since earned his way onto the roster by posting an .831 OPS in his first 62 spring training plate appearances. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Walker has immense strength, resulting in the kind of raw power that could make him a prototypical middle-of-the-order slugger. In order to fully access that pop, scouts expect that he'll need to continue to learn how to lift the ball more frequently -- last season, more than 45 percent of his batted balls were grounders. (A point in his favor is that most evaluators believe it's easier to train launch angle than exit velocity.) There was always a chance Walker would outgrow the hot corner, and the Cardinals have already taken to cross-training him in the outfield. Whatever position Walker ends up playing, his bat will be the main draw. It's conceivable that he could become the latest young Cardinals hitter to take regular at-bats sometime in 2023.
The Cardinals optioned Juan Yepez to the minors over the weekend, giving them the ability to carry Walker, another right-handed-hitting outfielder. Manager Oli Marmol will have the luxury of forming lineups using some combination of Walker, Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, Nolan Gorman, and Alec Burleson in the outfield.
Walker, a first-round pick in 2020, batted .306/.388/.510 in 119 Double-A games last season. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, he would earn the Cardinals a draft pick if he were to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
The Cardinals will begin their season on Thursday, March 30, by hosting the Toronto Blue Jays.