Editor's note: We've made a change with the PuRPs list this year, deciding to unveil each player individually over the course of a few weeks. To keep track of the rankings, keep checking our PuRPs list StoryStream.
9. Forrest Wall (358 points, 16 ballots) | Summer 2014 Ranking: 12 | High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 7, 8, 9, 10
Wall, a 19-year-old second baseman who spent his age 18 season at rookie-level Grand Junction, was Colorado's Competitive Balance Round A pick in the 2014 draft, Wall, the 35th overall pick, signed for an over-slot bonus of about $2 million. It's very unusual to see a high school second baseman drafted this high, but there's a reason. Resident prospect guru David Hood had this to say about Wall when he was selected:
Wall is available at pick 35 because of a couple of arm injuries, one that has led him to 2nd base, where he's likely to stay career-wise, with a fallback of centerfield (with minus arm) if need be, but not as likely. Wall is going to hit. His set up is a little noisy and he can get out on his front foot a little early, but Wall exhibits plus bat speed and the ability to barrel balls. He's a little slight of frame despite a listed height of 6'1, but the bat speed gives him the chance for solid to above average pop, a plus from second base. Wall also exhibits plus, usable speed, making him a threat on the bases and a high triples number candidate in Coors Field.
In other words, Wall is a second baseman who is very likely to stick there (though reports about his arm strength since the draft indicate that he might be able to fake it at shortstop), but he's an athletic, bat-first, left-handed-hitting second baseman, which makes him a bit more highly regarded. In the first year of his professional career, Wall showed off that hit tool, putting up a .318/.416/.490 line (136 wRC+) in 188 plate appearances against players that were on average 2.5 years older than him. I was excited enough by the projectability of the tool that I ranked Wall seventh on my list.
Wall was ranked eighth in the system by Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs and is the first player mentioned thus far that McDaniel projects as an average major league regular. McDaniel was, in his words, higher than anybody else on Wall's draft stock (he ranked Wall as the 17th best draft prospect), so he understandably likes the player:
He's a plus to plus-plus runner with fringy raw power, can stick at second base and was arguably the best prep bat in the 2014 draft class. He's raking in his pro debut and the Rockies have him on a throwing program to work on his arm strength.
Meanwhile, Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus rated Wall seventh in the system:
Strengths: Premium contact ability; natural ability to match swing plane to pitch plane, producing regular hard contact and allowing for maximum force at impact regardless of quadrant or pitch type; pure hitter in every sense; solid approach and comfort working deep or attacking early; average raw pop; double-plus speed plays out of the box and on the dirt; range spans from shallow right to behind the bag; sure hands.
Weaknesses: Below-average arm resultant from labrum surgery; arm could limit defensive impact, particularly around the bag; playable pop may top out to the gaps due to swing; limited defensive profile and capped power ceiling place pressure on the hit tool.
It's not often you see a pure second-base profile nab a $2 million signing bonus in the draft, but Wall is an exception to the rule, with his presence at the keystone tied solely to his below-average arm strength. The sturdy, sweet-swinging lefty has the hands and athleticism to handle the six spot, as well as the speed and instincts for center field, and the case can be made that had Wall's arm permitted him to profile comfortably at either spot, his enticing hit tool could have garnered attention as early as the middle of the first round.
While the hit tool is the crown jewel of the profile, Wall's speed and savvy should likewise allow him to impact the game on the bases and in the field, providing a broad baseline skill set to go with what could very well wind up the best pure stick in the 2014 draft class.
He spoke last year with our own Drew Creasman about his shoulder issues and his advanced (especially for his age) approach at the plate.
It all adds up to a very interesting package indeed, especially if Wall's arm strength continues to improve.
Contract Status: 2014 supplemental first round, not Rule 5 eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018