PuRP No. 8: Forrest Wall (807 points, 37 ballots) | Winter 2014 Ranking: 9 | High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 9
After coming to the Rockies in last year's draft with Colorado's Competitive Balance Round A pick (No. 35 overall) and signing with an overslot $2 million bonus, Forrest Wall quickly proved that those choices were merited. It is rare for a high school second baseman to go so high in a draft, but resident prospect guru David Hood had this to say about Wall when he was selected as an explanation:
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. With that said, 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 in Rookie ball Grand Junction.
The combination of production, pedigree, and potential was enough for Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus to rate Wall seventh in the system before the year:
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.
This year, Wall has had a pretty good campaign, though a shoulder injury again flared up and cost him a month of the season (something to watch going forward). In Low-A Asheville against pitchers that are on average 2.5 years older, the 19 year-old lefty has a .270/.351/.434 line (123 wRC+) in 325 plate appearances for the Tourists (plus 17 rehab appearances with the Short Season A Boise Hawks, in which he hit .500/.647/.500).
Wall's production to date was enough for MLB.com to place him No. 93 on their Top 100 prospects list in their mid-season prospect update, sixth in Colorado's system:
Wall has outstanding bat speed from the left side of the plate and he makes consistent line-drive contact to all fields. While he's not the biggest guy in the world, he does have some pop and should have the ability to keep pitchers honest as he progresses. He has an advanced approach at the plate and draws his fair share of walks, allowing his plus speed to work. He should continue to be a threat on the basepaths.
A pair of shoulder injuries concerned some and has limited Wall to the right side of the infield. But his exciting offensive profile should carry him up the ladder, even if it's as a bat-first second baseman.
I was excited enough by the overall tool set and production that I ranked Wall ninth on my list. It all adds up to a very interesting package indeed, especially if Wall's arm strength continues to improve and he can avoid any more serious shoulder injuries.
Contract Status: 2014 supplemental first round, not Rule 5 eligible (2018), three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2018