Walker Janek was a lightly recruited prep catcher from Gregory-Portland (TX) High School. He garnered some junior college interest his junior year of high school, but it wasn’t until the summer after his junior season that he received his first NCAA Division I offer from Sam Houston. Janek didn’t waste any time and verbally committed immediately in June 2020.
The decision to commit and attend Sam Houston has paid off for Janek. He started immediately his freshman season and has served as a reliable contributor in Sam Houston’s lineup over the last two seasons.
After flying under the radar as a high school prospect, Janek is now squarely in the spotlight. He has developed into one of the country’s best catchers and is receiving a plethora of attention in anticipation of July’s MLB draft.
“I feel like I was pretty underrecruited in high school,” Janek said. “But now it helps me because I play with a chip on my shoulder. It’s really helped me and my development.”
Professional scouts rave about Janek’s development into a well-rounded catcher. His offensive toolset and performance against quality college pitchers have led to increased attention from talent evaluators. Scouts project Janek as an early-round pick in this year’s draft.
“It’s been a lot of fun to experience,” Janek said. “It’s been a really good three years. I couldn’t ask for better teammates and coaches.”
Janek is a 6-foot, 195-pound right-handed hitting catcher with a well-balanced skill set. He uses a simple setup and a short, compact swing to impact the baseball. He has above-average contact skills and power potential.
Defensively, Janek is a quality defender at catcher. He is athletic and moves well behind the plate. He also shows quick transfers and above-average arm strength to control the running game.
“My athleticism is my biggest strength,” Janek said. “I feel like I can play anywhere. I feel like I have a plus bat and plus arm and like to think I’m a pretty good catcher too.”
Janek profiles well at catcher and figures to remain at the position in pro ball. Scouts believe he has the intangibles to play third base as well.
“I believe I’m one of the best or the best catcher in the country,” Janek said. “That’s just my opinion. I just expect to have a good year. I’ve put in the work and done all I can, so now it’s time to play. Hopefully, I’m a lot better in all aspects.”
Janek has displayed his well-rounded toolset throughout his first two years at Sam Houston. As a freshman, he hit .308 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 182 at-bats. He then posted a .301 batting average with 17 doubles, 13 home runs and 65 RBIs in 226 at-bats last year.
Janek’s performance last year was pivotal to Sam Houston’s success. The Bearkats posted a 39-25 record and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.
The Bearkats hope to qualify for the NCAA Tournament again this season.
“It’s been awesome to be part of this program and see its rise,” Janek said. “We are a family here at Sam Houston. We are extremely competitive. I like to feel we are the underdog, and it feels great beating those bigger teams.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for nine years. He has interviewed 518 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.