Who is Walker Jenkins?

Walker Jenkins, Minnesota Twins Florida Complex League, August 6, 2023. Photo credit Bryan Green, begreen90 on Flickr

Just recently, MLB released their updated list of the Top 30 Twins Prospects. At the top was an intriguing name that was my number five Twins prospect on my Midseason Top 50 List. That player was Walker Jenkins, who was taken fifth overall at this year’s MLB Draft and has skyrocketed his status with an impressive start to his professional career. Before we get to that, here’s some background information.

Name: Walker Jenkins
Age: 18.5
Position: OF
Bat/Throw: L/R
Draft: 5th overall, 1st round (2023 draft from South Brunswick Southport High School)

Coming in at 6’3″ and 210 pounds, Jenkins is already a big man at such a young age. Built with a strong frame and a compact swing, he also comes with the ability to turn on pitches quickly and drive them out. He committed himself to play at North Carolina, but ultimately made the decision to enter the MLB Draft because he felt that the time was right. Apparently, the Twins had been watching him play for years, as they scouted him at a high school showcase in Alabama. He’s also a popular teammate who shows leadership skills and a passion for the game. When in high school, he was often seen in the gym before and after practices, while working on his agility, stamina, and core strength. Overall, he comes with a good head on his shoulders and a healthy competitive spirit while always looking to learn and improve.

He also comes with an intriguing set of draft grades. The first is from his MLB profile, while the second is from Fangraphs.

While there are some similarities here, specifically the power, there is one interesting difference. With regard to the Hit Tool, Fangraphs sees Jenkins as a bit lower in his future value and feels that he has a long way to go to get there. While there isn’t much written to back up this claim, it is telling that they think he is a work in progress. It’s unclear if some of that has to do with his recovery last year from a hamate injury. Still, Keith Law himself had this to say about his swing:

He’s a left-handed hitter with a great swing that’s boosted by his outstanding bat control, allowing him to adjust mid-swing more than most teenagers can, and once he fills out he’ll probably have 30-homer power.

Jenkins eventually signed his deal with the Twins, just above the allotted value for the fifth-overall pick. The two sides got the deal done on July 25, 2023, just hours before the deadline. This meant that he was officially a part of the organization and could get to work on becoming a Minnesota Twin at some point in his professional career.

As of this writing, Jenkins has been a part of the Twins’ Florida Complex League, which is their Rookie Affiliate Team. He has been there since his professional debut on August 3, 2023. It didn’t take him long to make an impact, as he finished his first game 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. Here he is stretching what could have been a single into a hustled out double.

Just a few days later, he crushed his first professional home run. He has such a powerful stroke that provides instant power to any ball with which he connects.

As his incredible week came to an end, he moved up the rankings of many prospects lists, including that at MLB Pipeline.

Just a few days later, he did it again. Through ten games played as of August 28, 2023, Jenkins has himself a .317/.349/.561 slash line with two home runs hit and only seven strikeouts in 41 at-bats. He’s been a force to be reckoned with thus far in his early professional career.

In fact, he’s listed as baseball’s 16th-ranked prospect, according to MLB, which is such a massive upswing for someone just drafted. At the age of 18, the Twins may have a goldmine here. It’s up to them to develop him as he continues to grow into his body. There’s no telling what the future will bring, and nobody wants to get too ahead of themselves when looking ahead. That being said, Jenkins is a potential five-category player with a long way to go before he debuts. How the Twins view him will be key. Is he a corner outfielder or possibly a mainstay in center field, just as he believes he can be? Whatever the case, it will be one heck of a ride and Twins fans should be ecstatic that they have him in their organization.

Dave Funnell covers the Minnesota Twins minor leagues for Prospects1500. Located just south of Toronto in the city of Hamilton, he's an hour away from Buffalo (and the Bisons). He's been a fan of baseball his entire life and doesn't have a favorite team, which hopefully gives way for objectivty in analysis. Dave is in multiple keeper fantasy baseball leagues and is active on Twitter at @sportz_nutt51.

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