Jordan Walker Makes MLB History


Jordan Walker, the 20-year-old rookie sensation for the St. Louis Cardinals, began his career with a 12-game hitting streak, tying Eddie Murphy’s 1912 record by a player 20 or younger.

After being named the 4th-best prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline in early 2023, it was only fitting for Walker to begin his career the way he did. The Cardinals’ first round pick of the 2020 MLB Draft towers over most players at 6 feet 6 inches tall, 245 pounds and attended Decatur High School in Georgia. At Decatur, Walker was named the Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year in 2020,  shortened season in which he hit .457 and knocked in 15 RBIs in 16 games. While initially committing to play college-ball at Duke University, Walker eventually signed with the Redbirds with a sweet, $2.9 million signing bonus.

While most MLB franchises ensure that their top caliber prospects get plenty of experience in the minor leagues, it did not take very long for Walker to make his first major league roster. Throughout 2021, Walker tore through all levels of A-Ball, making him the Cardinals’ Minor League Co-Player of the Year along with Juan Yepez. In 2022, Walker was assigned to the Springfield Cardinals, the Cards’ Double-A Team, and traveled alongside Masyn Winn to Los Angeles where he represented St. Louis in the 2022 All-Star Futures Game. In 119 games with Springfield, Walker had a slash line of .306/.388/.510 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs. Many fans knew it was only a matter of time before he was promoted to Triple-A and eventually, the big leagues.

However, Walker would never step foot on a Triple-A field, as the Cardinals announced that Walker made the Opening Day roster on Mar. 25, 2023. On Mar. 26, the Cards posted a video on their Twitter capturing the moment that Walker learned of the news.

 “The biggest separator in watching you in this entire [Spring Training] camp was very simple: When you faced adversity, you weren’t bothered by it,” Cardinals Manager Oliver Marmol said to Walker in the video. At the end of his talk with Walker, the Cardinals skipper said, “You deserve every bit of being with us on Opening Day.” The Tweet has garnered over 680 thousand views and over 15 thousand likes to date.

Walker made his Major League debut on Mar. 30, 2023 against the Toronto Blue Jays, getting his first career hit off Jay’s ace Alek Manoah. At 20-years-old, Walker became the youngest position player to make his debut for the Cardinals since David Green in 1981. In addition, Walker hit his first career home run against the Atlanta Braves, his hometown team, on Apr. 5, receiving a roaring curtain call after making his way through the line of congratulating teammates. 

“It meant a lot – it was [a] pretty cool feeling,” Walker said in a postgame press conference following the 5-2 loss. “It’s been difficult for sure [to adjust to Major League pitching]. They keep changing their game plan,” Walker stated. “I’m going to have to keep adjusting to whatever their plan is for me.”

Throughout his first two weeks in the Majors, Walker garnered national attention, as he closed in on a record that had not been touched in over 100 years. Walker recorded at least one hit in each of his first twelve games, passing Ted Williams, who is often deemed as the “greatest hitter who ever lived,” who only recorded a hit in his first nine games. Unfortunately, Walker’s streak came to an end Thursday when he went 0-4 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with the Bucs starting pitcher, Vince Velasquez, limiting the Cardinals’ offense to 3 hits over 6 shutout innings. In Walker’s 50 plate appearances during the hit streak, the rookie recorded 15 hits, two doubles, two homers, and a triple slash of .319/.360/.489. However, after the streak ended, Walker’s bat cooled off significantly–he went just 1-for-16 over his next five games. Nevertheless, it seems that playing everyday will only allow him to improve as a hitter and adjust to Major League pitching, as fans must remember that he had previously never played above the Double-A level.

Players and fans are excited to see what Walker can accomplish this season and beyond. “I think he has massive potential. His size and power are something special and he’s also a pretty good athlete,” Cardinal Hall-of-Famer Jim Edmonds explained in an exclusive interview. Edmonds, who won the 2006 World Series with the Cardinals and eight Gold Gloves, continued, “Being a rookie is difficult because they’re now playing every day for six months under the microscope, especially when the real season starts…The only thing you can do is pay attention and be patient and take care of your body through the whole season.”

Although the Cardinals have gotten off to a slower start than many fans initially anticipated, there is no telling what this team can do when they get hot. While there are obviously areas of Walker’s game that need improvement and tweaking, it is clear that he might be the future of this organization. Although the 2023 Cardinals are loaded with hungry young players and established MLB talent, Jordan Walker may be the key piece the Cardinals need in a late October push.