Pirates Draft Prospects: Walker Jenkins is a Young Bat with Huge Potential Upside

Our weekly spotlight of 2023 draft prospects began with a closer look at LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, who many people have as the top prospect in this draft class. We then moved on to Chase Dollander, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Tennessee. Our third profile article looks at a high school outfielder. Here’s our draft preview article in case you missed it.

Baseball America just posted a new mock draft, which we looked at here. One of the names near the top was Walker Jenkins, who went seventh overall in the mock draft. Baseball America ranks him sixth in the draft class. MLB Pipeline ranks him seventh. Fangraphs isn’t as high, ranking him 12th. His high school season just started this week, so he will be added to our weekly recap that we post each Monday.

Jenkins turned 18 years old a month ago. He’s 6’3″, 205 pounds. He hits from the left side, while throwing right-handed. He’s an outfielder out of North Carolina, who has a college commitment to North Carolina.

Pipeline gives him three grades above average for his tools. His power and his arm both get 60 grades. His hitting is rated as a 55 grade, while his running and defense both get 50 grades. Jenkins had an injury last summer that kept him from potentially improving his draft rankings.

Pipeline describes him as being “built to hit for power” due to his large frame and quick bat. He has performed well against strong velocity, while showing an ability to hit the ball out of any part of the outfield. He also makes consistent hard contact.

Pipeline believes he will likely end up as a power-hitter right fielder with an above average arm, but he’s currently a center fielder. With average speed and defense, he’s likely more suited for the corner, but the bat will play anywhere. 

Moving on to Baseball America. Here’s a video posted by their lead draft coverage expert.

BA has much the same to say about his bat, while also noting that he has easy power and a good understanding of the strike zone. They believe he has a chance to be a “plus pure hitter” who also hits 30 homers per year. BA likes his speed a little better, calling him above average, plus they give him a better chance to stick in center field, while acknowledging that he could end up as a corner and make the transition smoothly. 

Fangraphs is a bit harder on him because they believe that there’s a chance his swing could lead to trouble against strong velocity up in the zone. He seems to excel with pitches low in the strike zone. They are also closer to what Pipeline said about the defense, believe center field is unlikely. They like the current power along with the potential, and they give him a good chance to be a solid big league regular.

Jenkins has real upside potential with the bat due to his ability to make consistent hard contact and drive the ball to all fields. If he reaches his peak, you’re talking about a guy who gets on base and hits for power, while the rest of his game will be average at worst. He didn’t have a chance to improve his draft stock last summer, yet he was still ranked high in this class. Right now he’s not getting mention as a potential #1 overall pick, but he’s someone to keep an eye on for now.

Here’s a video by Prospect Live from the summer of some game action

Here’s a video from this year of game action

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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No way this guy jumps over Crews. Not. A. Chance.


Dylan Crews’ teammate freshman Jared Jones is crushing the ball in the SEC. Impressive to see a kid get “Mark McGwire” for a nickname his first year of college ball. 4 consecutive 416’+ homers his last game.


He hit 1 out today, think he had 7 RBIs


I’ve heard about him forever

He looks healthy now

I’d be fine to take him 1-1


It would be Daniel Moskos multiplied by Tony Sanchez bad pick.

Anthony Murphy

That’s some rough math


Damn, that clip from Colazzo looks like it was taken in baseball heaven.


Yeah that field is pretty close to the ocean


For a guy named Walker, he sure runs to third a lot!

Wilbur Miller

I’m afraid Rudy isn’t rising to the challenge.

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