The Twins have announced they have signed Walker Jenkins, their first-round pick from the recent draft. Jenkins will receive a signing bonus of $7.1442MM, slightly north of the $7.1397MM slot value for the fifth overall pick. Jenkins is the last of the first-rounders to get a deal done, with the deadline being 4pm CT today. Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic had previously reported that a deal was close and Jim Callis of MLB.com relayed the figures prior to the official announcement.
Jenkins, 18, is a left-handed hitting outfielder who was selected out of South Brunswick High School in Southport, North Carolina. Coming into the draft, there was broad consensus that the top three players available were Paul Skenes, Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford, with each of Baseball America, MLB.com, ESPN, FanGraphs and Keith Law of The Athletic having those guys in the top spots in some order. There was also consensus about the next tier, as each of those five outlets had Jenkins and Max Clark in either the #4 or the #5 slot.
All the outlets have praise to dish out for all facets of his game, as he’s considered a quality bat-to-ball hitter who will also be capable of having 30-homer power someday. His speed, defensive acumen and arm strength all point to him being an above-average defender in right field, with a chance of sticking in center field not entirely off the table.
The fact that a talent such as his was available to the Twins is thanks to the new draft lottery system. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to implement a lottery as part of the most recent collective bargaining agreement. Minnesota benefited more than any other club in terms of jumping spots, as they had the 13th-worst record last year but jumped all the way up to get the fifth pick.
Skenes and Crews ended up going first and second, as many expected. The Tigers could have taken Langford third, but instead opted for Clark and signed him to a below-slot deal. That allowed the Rangers to take Langford with the fourth overall pick, signing to an above-slot deal. With four of the consensus top five players off the board, the Twins took the last of that remaining group in Jenkins. Though the negotiations were pushed to the last day, he’s now put pen to paper and will jump into the club’s system. Baseball America already considers him the #17 prospect in the entire league whereas Kiley McDaniel of ESPN said that Jenkins would immediately get his #21 ranking once he signed.