The Rockies rolled the dice on Wall’s hit tool, taking him with the 35th-overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Wall is a well-built kid – athletic with some present strength. I imagine he will get stronger, though I don’t see a ton of physical projection. As I noted back in April, Wall has always shown an advanced bat and feel for the barrel beyond his years, which ultimately had Colorado believing that he would advance through their system in short order. Wall does have a short, smooth stroke that produces some bat speed, and while he does not have much power projection, he has enough juice to find the gaps and pop one to the pull side from time to time.
The lack of power projection was one major knock on Wall when he was drafted – a concern that has largely held true through his first two-plus seasons in pro ball. However, the Rockies saw the hit tool and on-base ability as being so advanced that it outweighed the below-average power – a prediction that Wall rewarded the organization on by hitting .318 with a .416 OBP in his first 157 ABs in 2014. In his first full season in 2015 he hit .280 with a .355 OBP in the South Atlantic League, but showed a pedestrian 17% strikeout rate. The K-rate can usually be chalked up to the jump in level and a young hitter seeing more consistent breaking stuff for the first time. However, so far this year things have regressed a bit across the board – the 18% K-rate and .266 average represent only small dips, but the 30-point drop in OBP and the 82-point drop in and already below-average SLG are causes for concern. To be fair, Wall did jump up another level to High A and, at 20 years old, he is on the young side for the level. However, his value is directly tied to his ability to make consistent hard contact, shoot the gaps and get on base. He does have 22 SBs in 2016, so he can run a little bit (3.75 HP-to-1B on drag bunt; 4.35 down the line not going hard), but being caught 11 times each of the last two years does not suggest that he is going to be a consistent threat.
As I mentioned in April, Wall’s heavy feet around the bag at second, the whopping 30 errors and the fact that the average run doesn’t seem to translate in the field I think suggests that he won’t stay on the infield. Now there have also been rumors that he’s been dealing with a balky shoulder all season, which would be a good excuse for the offensive regression. So while his value is down, it’s far too early to write off a 20-year-old former first rounder. My prediction is that he ends up in left field down the line, and that he’ll actually be pretty good there. He is a little more of a straight line runner, so take out the need to change directions quickly and he may show surprising range. However, the industry mantra is usually to keep the bats on the infield as long as humanly possible because the value of an offensive infielder at the major league level is so much greater. My best guess is that he may go to instructs later this month if healthy to try and get the bat straightened out and give the Rockies’ brass a chance to reevaluate what they have. Look to Nick Franklin (LF, Rays) for a good comparison at the major league level.