Baseball

With the draft just a month away, it is time to take a look at who the Rangers could pick in the first round.  The Rangers are drafting fourth.  There seems to be a very solid consensus that there are five players in the upper tier of this draft.  Some see two guys by themselves in a tier, and then three more in a close second tier.  The five are as follows:

1. Dylan Crews, OF, LSU

2. Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU

3. Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida

4. Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick High (Oak Island, N.C.)

5. Max Clark, OF, Franklin Community High (Franklin, Ind.)

Almost every mock draft and every ranking of draft prospects for the 2023 draft, have Dylan Crews at the top.  Most of them list Paul Skenes second, but you can find both Langford and Jenkins name showing up at the second spot on occasion.  Most will have Langford ahead of Jenkins, but FutureStarSeries.com has Jenkins ahead of Langford.

When looking at several rankings and mock drafts, I find that Max Clark is considered the fifth best draft pick of the five if you go by a consensus of them.  As far as Rangers fans are concerned, there seems to be a tier of four to concentrate on, but Clark is a possibility.  He just seems like a lesser possibility than any of the other four.

Of course, the Rangers have been known to throw everyone a curve before.  I was certain last year, based on which players were available when it came time for them to pick, that they would pick Termarr Johnson, but they went with Kumar Rocker instead.

Let’s take a closer look at who the bulk of the experts expect the Rangers to draft at number four, Walker Jenkins.  MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, ESPN, The Athletic, Prospects Live, and Baseball Prospect Journal all are mocking Jenkins to the Rangers.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN has reported that a scouting director has told him, “Jenkins’ hit/approach/power combo (I’ll call them 60, 60, and 70, respectively) was the best among preps since Bobby Witt Jr. in the 2019 draft. He fits inside the top half of the minor league top 100 once he signs.”

Walker Jenkins was named the Gatorade North Carolina Baseball Player of the Year both last year and this year. His junior year he hit .519 with ten home runs. This year he batted .417 and walked in thirty-two of his ninety-five plate appearances, giving him an OBP of .632 and a slugging percentage of .633. Perfect Game has Jenkins ranked as the number one recruit in the Class of 2023. Their profile page for Walker Jenkins, including a great interview they did with him last month, can be found here:

https://www.perfectgame.org/players/playerprofile.aspx?ID=530952

Jenkins at 6’3” and 205 pounds plays center field at South Brunswick.  Some think he may eventually have to move to right field, but not all are convinced of that.  Carlos Collazo of Baseball America said last month, “he has shown better run times and he is also showing that the center field defense is a real possibility.” MLB Pipeline states in Jenkins’ profile that, “his instincts may allow the North Carolina recruit to remain in center field, with his reads and routes enhancing his range.

MLB Pipeline has Walker Jenkins’ scouting grades as follows:

Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 60

MLB Pipeline’s profile says that Walker “already shows the ability to turn on quality fastballs and drive them out of the park to right field, and his pop extends to the opposite field as well.” They say he has a “sweet swing” and makes “consistent hard contact.”

His makeup also grades very highly.  When Gatorade named him the North Carolina Baseball Player of the Year, their news release had this to say about Walker. “Jenkins has volunteered locally as part of community beautification projects and as a youth baseball coach. He has also donated his time to multiple community service initiatives through his church youth group.” They also mentioned that his GPA is 4.57.

I have watched several interviews with Walker Jenkins, and they all show that he is a fantastic young man with a good head on his shoulders, a genuine concern for others, and that he has great manners.  His interviews are peppered with several instance of “yes sir” and “no sir.”  Many of the articles I have read mention how he stays after games to give autographs to everyone who asks, even after tough losses.  He often mentions how important his upbringing has been in his life, and he seems to have the utmost respect for his parents.

If things work out the way most draft experts expect them to, the Rangers will get a great player and a great person in Walker Jenkins with their fourth pick in the first round.  It would be really hard to go wrong with any of those top four draft prospects though.