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Walker Jenkins remaining level-headed as MLB draft nears
East outfielder Walker Jenkins (6) during the Perfect Game All-American Classic high school baseball game at Chase Field. (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn Sports Content Services, LLC)

Walker Jenkins remaining level-headed as MLB draft nears

SOUTHPORT, N.C. (BVM) — The 2023 MLB Draft is slated to begin July 9 and will feature some of the best baseball talent in the country, including No. 4 overall prospect Walker Jenkins.

Jenkins’ high school baseball career ended May 16, but he recorded impressive numbers again this season, highlighted by a .480 batting average.

“Going into the high school season, I was extremely excited,” Jenkins said. “When you come off of the offseason, you’re getting ramped up and getting ready to get back out on the field, and I was kind of anxious but ready to get back out there.”

brunswick South cougars Jenkins Walker MLB playoffs
South Brunswick’s Walker Jenkins navigates the bases as the Cougars hosted Carrboro in the second round of the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs on Friday, May 12, 2023. (Credit: Michael Cuneo/STARNEWS / USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Sports Content Services, LLC)

Jenkins was coming off a year where he won the Gatorade North Carolina Baseball Player of the Year award, batting .527, hitting 10 home runs and recording 40 RBIs, according to MaxPreps. He also recorded an OPS of 1.660, solidifying his position as the best prep baseball player in the state, and was primed to lead the South Brunswick Cougars back to the state championship, but they fell short in the third round of the playoffs.

“I was just glad to be out there with a bunch of my best friends, getting to play one last season and have as much fun as I possibly could,” Jenkins said. 

While this past season will be fun to look back on, as a competitor, it’s bittersweet for Jenkins, and he’s now readying himself for the next chapter of his athletic career. 

“It’s not fun losing. I wanted to go all the way, but that’s part of it,” Jenkins said. “Looking back on it, I thought it was an extremely fun season, and I’m glad I was with the guys I was with … but you got to move on to the next chapter.”

That next chapter could come in the form of an MLB career, or he could pursue collegiate success at North Carolina, where he’s been committed to since he was 15.

“I’m still trying to take it a day at a time,” Jenkins said. “I’m going to college until I’m not, but right now, I’m trying to get better. I’m hitting, working out and doing everything to prepare myself for the next level, wherever that may be. I’m excited for it, and no matter where this path takes me, I’m excited to play ball, and either way, it’s two great choices.”

It’s also likely Jenkins takes the professional route with his play drawing comparisons to North Carolina’s last No. 1 overall MLB draft pick, Josh Hamilton, and MLB.com ranking him as the No. 4 overall draft prospect.

walker jenkins perferct game north carolina mlb draft 2023
East outfielder Walker Jenkins (6) during the Perfect Game All-American Classic high school baseball game at Chase Field. 9Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn Sports Content Services, LLC)

“I didn’t grow up watching him as much as some other players,” Jenkins said. “But from what people have said, I feel like it’s a pretty fair comparison, and people said Josh was a good athlete coming out of high school and was an overall good player, and I feel like that’s similar to me.”

Both paths provide Jenkins chances to flourish, and as his offseason begins, he will look to recover, and he could do that by continuing to swim. 

“It’s something I did to help keep the body in shape and to stay competitive,” Jenkins said. “Swimming is such a good cardiovascular sport and good on the muscles, the ligaments and tendons and loosens everything up. It was extremely beneficial going into this year.”

It’s clear that Jenkins will do anything to better himself and his play on the baseball field. That includes listening to his parents, who have always given him sound advice. 

“[They’ve said] just to be me,” Jenkins said. “Don’t go out and change the person you are. Don’t act any differently and trust the hard work you’ve put in and keep your faith in the Lord, and control what you can control. You can go out in the baseball game, hit the ball hard, and go 0-for-4, but that’s just part of baseball.”

Regardless of where Jenkins ends up, it will be a continuation of his extraordinary journey, and while some tough decisions lie ahead, he’s always going to take the field, eager to compete and give everything he can.

“Seeing where this has taken me and where I’m at now is kind of surreal,” Jenkins said. “It almost feels like a dream. But now I’m going to keep working hard and keep doing what I can do to be the best. That’s something I’m going to continue to do no matter what level I’m at.