Rookie phenom Jordan Walker breaks down after being told he's made Cardinals' roster
Baseball fans just can't get enough of these kinds of stories. Even if they happen multiple times every spring.
A young player who works hard in camp is rewarded with the news that he's won a spot on the opening day roster. And his reaction is priceless.
That's how things played out Saturday when 20-year-old Jordan Walker was called into St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol's office for a chat.
"The separator when watching you this entire camp was very simple. When you faced adversity, you weren't bothered by it," Marmol said as Walker waited patiently for the words he hoped to hear.
"You deserve every bit of being with us opening day."
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That moment when your dream becomes a reality. pic.twitter.com/lHU7tiZBn3
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 26, 2023
And there was much rejoicing.
A third baseman-turned-outfielder, Walker hit .304 with 19 home runs, 22 stolen bases and an .894 OPS last season at Class AA Springfield (Mo.), but he played his way onto the Cardinals' opening day roster with a strong performance in spring training (.286/.308/.508 with three home runs, 19 runs scored and nine RBI in 65 plate appearances).
He'll be the youngest player to make his MLB debut with the Cardinals since Rick Ankiel in 1999.
A consensus top-five overall prospect entering 2023, the 6-5, 220-pound Walker got a long look this spring with several Cardinals regulars participating in the World Baseball Classic. He started making the transition from a third baseman to an outfielder last year in the minors because his path to playing time at the hot corner was blocked by 10-time Gold Glover Nolan Arenado.
In the end, talent won out as Walker will make the jump from playing at Class AA last year to the majors. The move is similar to one made by last season's American League rookie of the year Julio Rodriguez, who also hit the ground running in his age-21 season while completely skipping the Triple-A level.
Jordan Walker's fantasy impact
Walker was already seeing a significant boost in his fantasy value with his strong spring. The only thing that may have been holding him back was the possibility of starting the season in the minors.
With that no longer a concern, he should see everyday at-bats in St. Louis -- either as a corner outfielder or at DH. Walker played more games at third base than he did in the outfield last season in the minors, so he'll gain additional fantasy eligibility in the outfield within a couple weeks.
All of those factors combine for a huge jump in USA TODAY's fantasy rankings. Walker was ranked No. 210 overall and the 21st-rated third baseman.
With the official word he'll start the season in the majors, Walker skyrockets to No. 139 overall and 12th among third basemen. Once he's eligible in the outfield, he'll slot at No. 36.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cardinals' Jordan Walker has priceless reaction to making roster