Get to know Twins' No. 5 pick Walker Jenkins

July 10th, 2023

In 1999, Josh Hamilton put North Carolina high school baseball on the map when he went No. 1 in the MLB Draft as a prep prospect. Twenty-four years later, Walker Jenkins continued that lineage when he was selected fifth overall by the Twins in this year’s Draft. Here’s what you need to know about the sweet swinging lefty.

Ht/Wt: 6-foot-3, 205 lbs
B/T: Left/right
Birthdate: Feb. 19, 2005
College: Committed to North Carolina
High school: South Brunswick (N.C.)
Hometown: Oak Island, North Carolina

He has one of the best swings in the draft

At 6-foot-3, Jenkins was built to cause damage in the batter’s box, and his high school stats prove it. In 2022, Jenkins hit .527 (49-for-93) in 30 games, with more than half of his hits going for extra bases. He also led his conference in home runs (10) and RBIs (40) en route to being named the Mideastern 3A/4A Conference Player of the Year along with being named the Gatorade Player of the Year for North Carolina. He’s a career .388/.520/1.150 hitter in high school.

Despite being walked 32 times in his senior year, Jenkins hit .480 with 32 runs scored this past spring.

MLB Pipeline graded Jenkins with a 60 hit tool on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale, which makes sense given his penchant for hitting the cover off the ball. He has a sweet left-handed stroke that allows him to easily catch up to fastballs, as well as punish mistakes.

He could have gone Division I in another sport

When Jenkins was a freshman in high school, he underwent a procedure to fix a hip impingement, and, in turn, decided to start swimming since he was unable to put any pressure on his lower body.

Two years later, Jenkins hopped back in the pool and helped lead South Brunswick’s 200-year freestyle relay team to an eighth-place finish in the 3A state championships.

"I've been coaching high school swim for almost 10 years, and it's incredibly rare to see someone whose main sport isn't swimming excel in it like Walker did," South Brunswick swim coach Nina McPherson told the Wilmington Star-News. "[If swimming was his main sport] he could have easily ended up as a Division I swimmer."

His speed is a weapon on offense and defense

While Jenkins has played some shortstop, his future is in the outfield -- we just don’t know what that future will look like.

For now, Jenkins has been playing center field, where his speed (combined with his instincts and route-running ability) helped him enhance his range. Still, even if he doesn’t stick in center field, his plus arm and power should help him fit the archetype of a slugging right fielder.

On offense, Jenkins has been timed as running a 4.10 home-to-first time, which is a big reason why MLB Pipeline graded him with 55 speed.

He hasn’t ruled out college

Although Jenkins was always seemingly a lock to be a top-10 pick in this year's Draft, he’s still seriously considering honoring his commitment to his hometown Tar Heels.

“I don’t really know yet,” Jenkins told Scorebook Live when asked about his college decision in March. “That’s something that could go down to the wire. I committed to Carolina. It’s my dream school. My family has always been huge on education. That will be a tough decision. I really don't have an answer I can give you.”