Walker Jenkins is competitive and has always enjoyed playing various sports growing up. The South Brunswick (N.C.) High School product has starred on the baseball team throughout high school while participating in swimming his freshman year and basketball his sophomore year.
With his rise into one of the top prep baseball players in the country throughout high school, Jenkins focused exclusively on baseball during his junior year. But Jenkins wanted to enjoy his senior year and believed swimming would help prepare him for his final prep season of baseball.
The highly-touted baseball prospect returned to the pool for his senior year. He competes in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter medley relay and 200-meter freestyle relay for his high school team.
“Swimming got me in the best shape of my life freshman year,” Jenkins said. “Your body feels great after it. Your joints feel stronger, and you also build muscle. Swimming helps build up those little muscles you don’t use that can be helpful on the baseball field.”
This spring season will be an important time for Jenkins, who is in the mix to go first overall in the 2023 MLB draft. Professional baseball evaluators consider Jenkins a top-two prep prospect in the draft, alongside Indiana prep outfielder Max Clark.
Jenkins is an advanced prospect with an extremely exciting toolset and five-tool potential, making him a desirable option atop the draft.
“It’s really surreal,” Jenkins said. “My goal, even as a young kid when I told people I was going to play in the big leagues, has been to be the best player ever. That has always been my goal. You have to dream big. As I continued to get older, I realized I had a chance to play at the college level and hopefully even the level after that.”
Jenkins is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound left-handed hitting center fielder known for his ability at the plate. He has notable bat speed and an exciting knack for hitting for average and above-average power. He is a confident hitter with simple mechanics and a quality understanding of the strike zone.
Besides his ability to consistently barrel up pitches and drive the ball to all parts of the field, Jenkins also makes an impact with his above-average speed on the base pads.
“Baseball players make it if they can hit,” Jenkins said. “Hitting is definitely my strongest tool. That is what I feel like I work on the most and enjoy doing the most. It is the thing I am best known for, and it is my best tool.”
Defensively, Jenkins is a quality center fielder due to his above-average arm strength and quality speed. He takes quality routes to the ball and consistently makes accurate throws.
Some scouts believe Jenkins will shift to right field in the future as he continues to mature physically. But Jenkins doesn’t think he will have to move to a corner outfield spot.
“My defense can get a little overlooked,” Jenkins said. “My defense is very strong as well. I genuinely think I can stick in center field long term. I think I will have the speed there, and also with my reaction and routes. There are guys who are quicker than me, but I get better reactions and run better routes that allow me to catch some balls that even guys faster than me aren’t catching.”
Besides the tools Jenkins exemplifies on the field, he also has tremendous makeup. He is passionate about baseball and is dedicated to refining his craft. He is a mature individual with a level-headed approach.
Jenkins’ skill set and makeup will help him at the next level. Besides his status as a draft prospect, Jenkins is a North Carolina commit. He received interest from various schools, including North Carolina State, where his dad played on the baseball team for two years in college.
North Carolina’s coaching staff, player development and winning tradition stood out to Jenkins throughout the recruiting process.
“Carolina has always had an extremely good baseball history,” Jenkins said. “The coaching staff sold it for me. The relationships I built with them, the type of people they are and how they coach the players for the next level stood out to me.”
Do you enjoy reading Baseball Prospect Journal’s draft content? Support our work and become a Patron!
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 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.