Thursday, June 5, 2014

2014 Draft, Player of Interest: Forrest Wall, 2b/OF

Forrest Wall
Orangewood Christian High School
Position: 2b/of
B/T: L/R
HT: 6-1 WT: 180
DOB: 11/20/1995

Some view Forrest Wall as having the best hit tool in the entire draft. The question mark on Wall is the health of his shoulder. If that question didn't exist, Wall would likely be rated much higher by pundits.

Wall patterns his hitting after Robinson Cano and it shows in his swing mechanics. Wall uses a lot of movement in his setup and swing, describing himself as a "rhythm hitter". He uses a double pump with his hands during his load, which is what Cano does, and has incorporated that as a timing mechanism.

Here's a look at Wall in action, courtesy of Baseball Instinct on YouTube:

Wall is a baseball rat who has drawn comparisons to Chase Utley and who hits daily at a hitting facility founded by Dante Bichette. Wall has spent a lot of time hitting with Bichette and his son, who helped mold his swing and approach at the plate. Wall is very comfortable using the entire field and has shown very good pitch recognition skills. He loves to swing the bat, but he has shown the ability to take disciplined ABs and work the count to gain count-leverage.

To date, Wall's power hasn't fully translated to games, but he does show the ability in batting practice to drive the ball out of the ballpark and he did out-homer MLB slugger Jose Bautista in a charity home run derby (for whatever that's worth). So, there is some power projection left to his game.

Wall's true prospect value is an ongoing debate due to the injuries he has suffered. Wall suffered a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder in March 2014, but that was minor, especially compared to the torn labrum injury he suffered in 2011 to his right (throwing) shoulder. Wall's arm strength still hasn't returned to its pre-injury strength, which is why he's been limited to second base.

Wall is a very good athlete with plus-plus speed, so if his arm strength were to return he would still be playing shortstop and might be able to stick there in the professional ranks.

In the MLB draft second baseman are rarely drafted highly and frequently not at all. Not surprisingly, (1) amateur teams typically slot their best athletes at shortstop and (2) MLB teams focus on drafting shortstops who can shift over to second base if they can't handle shortstop as they climb the ladder. So, few second basemen get drafted.

Wall is an exception and that is a credit to his plus hit tool and diverse skill set. If the shoulder returns to full strength, then Wall could be the steal of the draft. Even if it doesn't, just so long as the arm strength is sufficient to hold down second base, centerfield, or leftfield, the bat and speed could make him an impact type talent.

Wall is a pure hitter with very good speed, profiling him as a top of the lineup tablesetter who could drop down to the middle of the lineup if his power develops.

It's difficult to find pure hitters. I learned long ago that it's not wise to gamble on questionable hit tools in the first round. The opposite probably applies here, as despite his shoulder issue it would be a very reasonable gamble for the Reds to wager on Wall's plus hit tool.

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