The 2023 fantasy baseball draft season is in full swing! As you start preparing for draft day there is no better way to get ready than with the FREE Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Baseball Draft guide. Now is the time to begin fantasy baseball mock drafts as well as diving into fantasy baseball player rankings and MLB Projections to set up your draft plan. Tuesday will be Third Base Day and this week we continue the Positional Spotlight series, where we will have individual player profiles, rookie breakdowns and more.
2023 MLB Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight
Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals
A third baseman that is drawing quite a buzz in the spring training circles is St. Louis Cardinals rookie Jordan Walker. The young phenom has a current NFBC ADP of 233.61 and has been the 19th third baseman off the board in most drafts. This could all change, though, as Walker has been making mockery of major league pitching and trying to force his way onto the Cardinals opening day lineup. Third base is top heavy again this season and the position thins out quickly after the top few names, so fantasy managers will need to gamble a bit in the next couple of weeks and take a stance on Walker’s immediate fantasy future.
I have already been to the Cardinals spring training complex in Jupiter, FL this month and it sure is hard to miss Jordan Walker. Between his size (Walker is listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and his recent play at the plate, the 20-year-old is making it hard to be ignored. The talk had been that the rookie would not head north with the big club, but his performance in the Grapefruit League is giving manager Oliver Marmol and the Cardinals brass little choice in the final decision. Walker’s latest feat is a 4-for-4 game over the weekend that included two home runs, a double and beating out an infield single.
Not only is Walker just impressing this spring; he’s making an embarrassment of opposing pitching. The poster of the Cardinals’ farm system is leading Major League Baseball so far in slugging percentage (1.167) and OPS (1.667) and is tied for the home run lead with three. He’s also hitting .500 and is third with six RBIs.
Walker, the 2020 Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year who originally signed to play at Duke, hit .457 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in his Covid-shortened senior year of high school. As a junior, he batted .519 with 17 home runs, 60 RBI, 43 runs scored and 24 stolen bases. After being drafted in the first round by the Cardinals in the 2020 MLB Draft (21st overall) Walker was named Cardinals' 2021 Minor League Co-Player of the Year with Juan Yepez.
In that big 2021 season Walker split his time between Class-A and High-A. Between those two levels, slashed .317/.388/.548 with 14 home runs, 14 steals and a 151 wRC+. Last season he jumped to Double-A and kept smashing, to a 306/.388/.510 slash line and 19 home runs, 22 stolen bases and a 128 wRC+. After spending the fall of 2022 in the Arizona League where Walker slashed .286/.367/.558 he had his sites set on AAA with nothing left to prove at Double-A. Now things have changed.
Jordan Walker Minor League Statistics (per Baseball Reference)
Herein lies Walker’s dilemma. Even though he is considered one of the top prospects in the league (ranked fourth by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline) Walker is a third baseman by trade. There is a guy named Nolan Arenado that may not be ready to hang up his spikes just yet in the hot corner in St. Louis. Reports are that Walker is now looking to break camp as an outfielder but that may not be easy either with names such as Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson and Yuan Yepez already entrenched at the position. Walker has been seeing some time in the outfield, though, as out of 98 starts in Double-A last season Walker did play 30 in right field. Reports are that he has a cannon for an arm and pundits are guessing that he really could end up in left field which would bump two-time Gold Glover O’Neill to center field, leaving Carlson as the odd man out.
The jury is out and there is still a long ways to go for Walker in spring training. Unless the young stud gets hurt or goes into a sudden slump at the plate the Cardinals just can’t hold back this power hitter. The most likely scenario is Walker splitting his time between outfield, third base, and DH and if he continues to smash, the Cards will have no choice but to find him an everyday role. If you think that he plays 100 games this year he may be worth a shot in 12-team leagues, especially with a DH spot. If you believe that he will see 125-plus games, then Walker is draftable, and it can be justified that he goes somewhere between the 20th-25th third baseman off the board.
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