(KMOV.com) — The Cardinals haven't had the chance to make their mark on the playing field yet this season, but off the field, the team made a move to add to its future during the first round of the 2020 MLB draft Wednesday night.
With the No. 21 overall pick in the first round of this year's draft, the Cardinals selected Jordan Walker, a third baseman out of Decatur High School in Decatur, Georgia. Walker, who is committed to play college baseball at Duke, is viewed as a future power hitter in the big leagues.
"I can't describe how excited I am," Walker said Wednesday night of being drafted by the Cardinals. "The minute I heard my name called, I was jumping for joy. Just been so happy ever since. I really can't think of the words to describe the feeling I'm feeling right now. But it's definitely a positive feeling. I'm very excited and I really can't wait to play in the organization."
Walker was named Georgia's Gatorade High School player of the year in this season's effort, which was truncated to 16 games due to coronavirus. In those games, the right-handed swinging Walker hit .457 with four home runs to follow up a tremendous campaign as a junior in which he hit for a .519 average with 17 home runs and 43 runs scored, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Cardinals scouting director Randy Flores said Wednesday night that the club believes the 6-foot 5-inch Walker will be able to stick as a third baseman for the long haul. Flores described numerous attractive characteristics his staff saw in Walker that led the team to a position where it was "very, very excited to make the pick."
“What we were impressed with was his physicality, his athleticism, his body control, his aptitude, his maturity—and then that stands out in the strides he made over a long summer circuit,” Flores said of Walker. “You might say, well that’s not long, it’s only three months. But when you’re playing against the best competition for several months, you’re looking for small things that differentiate one player from the other.
“When you add up all those things I mentioned, Jordan Walker was at the top of our list.”
Walker was rated as the No. 34 draft prospect in this year's draft by Baseball America and No. 33 by MLB.com. The slot value for the 34th overall pick, $2,148,100, would have certainly been an attractive proposition for Walker to potentially forgo his commitment to Duke. The 21st overall pick—which is where Walker was ultimately selected by St. Louis—comes with an even more appealing signing bonus slot value of $3.1 million.
“If things don’t play out the way I want them to work out, I just feel like I have very good options both ways,” Walker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the draft. “If the draft doesn’t work out, I’d be really excited about going to Duke.”
Considering the Cardinals selected Walker above his anticipated landing spot in most mock drafts, it feels safe to say the draft indeed has worked out for the 18-year-old infielder.
Jordan's father says MLB scholarship program gives the family comfort he can go back later for his degree. Sure sounds as though the Duke commit Walker would happily sign w/ Cardinals."At the end of the day, we know he wants to play baseball & now he's able to chase his dream." pic.twitter.com/3wAjELsNb4— Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12) June 11, 2020
With seven draft picks in this year's five-round event, the Cardinals came into the draft tied with the San Francisco Giants for the most selections across all MLB clubs. St. Louis will follow up its pick at No. 21 with selections at No. 54, No. 63, No. 70, No. 93, No. 122 and No. 152 overall.
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