Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak tells reporters, including MLB.com’s John Denton, that top prospect Jordan Walker has made the Opening Day roster in St. Louis. Walker, who is not on the 40-man roster, will require a corresponding move to be added. According to Denton, Mozeliak expects this move to come on Wednesday or Thursday. Outfielder Alec Burleson and left-handers Zack Thompson and Packy Naughton have also made the big league roster, according to Mozeliak.
Walker, 20, is a consensus top prospect in the sport, with MLB.com ranking him as the 4th best in the game. Should Walker finish in the top three of NL Rookie of the Year voting or the top five of NL MVP voting this year, the Cardinals will receive an extra draft pick thanks to Walker’s inclusion on the Opening Day roster.
That’s not out of the realm of possibility for Walker, a career .310/.388/.525 hitter in the minors who has yet to play above the Double-A level in his career. In skipping Triple-A entirely for Walker, the Cardinals are giving the potential superstar a notable vote of confidence. With Walker’s native third base occupied by 2023 NL MVP finalist Nolan Arenado, Walker figures to factor into the club’s outfield and DH mix alongside Burleson, Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O’Neill, and Dylan Carlson.
Fellow Top 100 prospect Burleson, meanwhile, struggled in his 2022 big league debut, slashing .188/.264/.271 in 53 plate appearances. With that being said, he dominated to a .905 OPS in 109 games at the Triple-A level last season, leaving plenty of room for a big breakout for the 24 year-old.
Following St. Louis’s decision to option lefty Genesis Cabrera earlier today, it’s of little surprise to see Thompson and Naughton make the roster. Thompson dominated to a 2.08 ERA in 34 2/3 innings for the Cardinals last year, and though Naughton didn’t fare as well with a 4.78 ERA in 32 big league innings, he did dominate in Triple-A last year.