Jordan Walker meets with the Springfield media for the first time, ahead of this weekend’s season-opening series against Northwest Arkansas at Hammons Field. (Photo: Springfield Cardinals)


If you need a reason to get to Hammons Field this season, look no further than the man scheduled to play third base. He’s big and he’s a big-time prospect.

Jordan Walker is hard to miss. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is ranked as the top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization and one of the projected rising stars in all of professional baseball.

At 19, Walker is the youngest player in the Double-A Texas League. He appears to be the total package of power, speed and charisma.

This is a guy that, five years from now, you might be able to say “I saw him play in Springfield” when he’s blasting balls over the wall at Busch Stadium. 

Earlier this week, Walker met the Springfield media for the first time. He walked up to the group with an engaging smile and fielded questions like one-hop grounders. If he makes contact with baseballs like he made eye contact with strangers, he’s going to rattle the Hammons Field fences.

“I’m excited to be here,” Walker said. “They say the fans are wonderful. Everyone in the organization says it’s a hitter’s ballpark. 

“Baseball is fun,” Walker added. “This is my dream to do this and has been ever since I started playing at four years old. All I can say is that the excitement is here and I’m ready to get going.”

The Cardinals made Jordan Walker of Stone Mountain, Georgia, the 21st overall selection in the 2020 baseball draft. (Photo by Paul R. Gierhart)

Walker already off to impressive start

The Cardinals drafted Walker 21st overall just two years ago and gave him a $2.9 million signing bonus. The right-handed hitter from Stone Mountain, Georgia, who had signed to play baseball at Duke, instead spent that summer starting his professional career at Hammons Field as part of the Cardinals’ off-site training center as COVID-19 canceled the minor-league season.

In 2021, Walker impressed at Low-A Palm Beach and High-A Peoria. He hit a combined .317 with 14 home runs, 48 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 325 at-bats. His OPS (on-base plus slugging) average was an impressive .936.

This spring, Walker got to spend time around some of the Cardinals’ big leaguers in Jupiter. When he wasn’t honing his fielding skills with renowned instructor Jose Oquendo, he was observing veterans like Yadier Molina, Nolan Arenado and Albert Pujols.

“It was a great experience,” Walker said of spring training and being around the stars. “You don’t always get to talk to them, but just getting to watch them play and how they go about their work and their routine, it shows you a lot and it shows you what you need to do to get there.”

Walker has been a quick study on the Cardinals after growing up an Atlanta Braves fan, with Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones his favorite player. Asked if it was difficult to shed his fandom once drafted by the Cardinals, he smiled.

“It wasn’t too tough to switch at all,” Walker said of his baseball allegiance. Asked about the “Cardinal Way” he said it’s more action than words.

“We’re focused on our work and that’s pretty much the Cardinal Way,” he said. 

Jordan Walker hit a combined .317 with 14 home runs, 48 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in his first full professional season in 2021 for Low-A Palm Beach and High-A Peoria. (Photo by Paul R. Gierhart)

Ready to put in the work to get better

Work ethic seems to be a strength. Walker is especially mindful that his defense needs work and he’s eager to improve that part of his game.

“It’s tough to play infield when you’re that tall,” Springfield manager Jose Leger said. “He definitely needs some work, but he’s not far behind. It’s a matter of moving his feet. Footwork is what it’s all about for infielders and he’s going to have to work.

“This kid is 19. He’s into his third year as a professional ballplayer and he’s just got some work to do. But the good thing is, the tools are there.”

Baseball has always been Walker’s favorite sport. He said his father and grandfather have stories of how young Jordan used to sleep with his baseball glove every night.

“They said I had a love for it and they weren’t wrong,” Walker said. “I love the game. While basketball, football and other sports are fun, baseball stands out at the top for me.”

Walker hit .457 with four home runs in an abbreviated senior season at Decatur High School before COVID canceled the rest of the season. He had a 3.98 grade-point average and was a member of the National Honor Society. He also was a peer tutor and volunteered his spare time as a youth baseball coach.

“He’s a great kid to work with, very down to earth, humble and a talented young man,” Leger said. “He’s only 19 and you can see the way he handles himself. It’s special.”

The accolades and attention don’t seem to phase Walker. 

“I don’t really think too much about it, to be honest,” Walker said. “You know, it’s cool hearing about it. The dream is to get to the major leagues. That’s my goal. I’m not there yet. There’s work to do.”

Right now all preparation points toward Friday night, as the Springfield Cardinals play host to Northwest Arkansas. First pitch of the three-game series is 6:35 p.m. April 8. Walker said he’s pumped to get the season going.

“There’s always those first-night nerves when the season starts, but the excitement is probably going to outweigh that, for sure,” Walker said. “Just getting back on the field in front of the fans again, it’s going to be a nice feeling.” 

Enjoy watching Walker in Springfield while you can. It should be fun for him, and for us.

Springfield Cardinals Opening Series

When: Friday, 6:35 p.m., Saturday 5:35 p.m., 1:35 p.m. Sunday vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Promotions: Mercy Clear Bag giveaway, Friday; Post-game fireworks, Friday and Saturday; Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Sunday (kids enjoy free ice cream before the game; Kids Run the Bases post-game Sunday)

Tickets: Call (417) 863-0395 or visit the Cardinals box office at Hammons Field

Lyndal Scranton

Lyndal Scranton is a Springfield native who has covered sports in the Ozarks for more than 35 years, witnessing nearly every big sports moment in the region during the last 50 years. The Springfield Area Sports Hall of Famer and live-fire cooking enthusiast also serves as PR Director for Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri and is co-host of the Tailgate Guys BBQ Podcast. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @LyndalScranton. More by Lyndal Scranton