3

Getting to know Chad Spanberger and Forrest Wall

The Blue Jays began their 2018 firesale yesterday when they sent righty reliever Seunghwan Oh to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for two prospects — Chad Spanberger and Forrest Wall.

First up, left-handed power bat Chad Spanberger, Colorado’s sixth-round pick from the 2017 draft. He went pro last summer and has been absolutely mashing ever since. Spanberger is currently slashing a .316/.364/.580 line with a 161 wRC+ for Colorado’s Single-A affiliate through 379 plate appearances. One thing that jumps out a little bit, though, is the fact he’s struck out 82 times while walking only 20 times this season. Obviously I don’t want to stat scout too much here, but that’s an ugly strikeout to walk ratio. Anyways, here are what people who actually know what they’re talking about have to say…

Spanberger went nuts during the SEC tournament with lots of scouts watching and his stock skyrocketed shortly before the draft. He has big raw power and hit 40% of his balls in play over 100 mph last year. He’s a stiff, first-base-only athlete, so he’ll have to hit all the way up the minor-league ladder. He’s off to a slow start in part because he has walked, as of publication time, in less than 2% of his 2018 plate appearances. – FanGraphs 

Spanberger garners some comparisons to Chris Davis because he’s a first baseman with big-time left-handed power and swing-and-miss concerns. His bat speed, strength and leverage give him massive raw power to all fields, and he doesn’t get cheated with an aggressive approach. While he probably won’t hit for a high average, he did make strides with using the entire field and made more consistent contact in 2017.

A high school catcher who played some right field early in his college career, Spanberger has well below-average speed that limits him to first base as a pro. He can develop into an adequate defender but has a lot of work to do after committing 10 errors in 54 games during his debut. – MLB.com

Admittedly, I’d have liked to have seen Chad Spanberger a bit more before finalizing a 50 FV on him entering 2018, but here we are; the Colorado Rockies have a nice power prospect here in the same vein as a guy like Daniel Jipping, but with Spanberger showing better bat skills to project into an everyday lineup role than just as a bench power option. Spanberger should move fairly quickly coming from an SEC program, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him with High-A Lancaster to begin 2018. We’ll see how his aggressive tendencies fare against better pitchers at that level, though there’s no doubt Lancaster’s unique ballpark will help push his power totals. Similarly, if Spanberger is sent to Asheville, a short porch in right field should help him produce a nice season in the South Atlantic League. Don’t be fooled by park factors alone here, though; Chad Spanberger has legitimate raw power and it should carry him through the minors regardless of where he plays. Beyond that, his name will soon enough show up in a conversation about potential future first basemen in Denver, with a shot to reach Coors Field by 2020 in a best-case scenario. – Baseball Census 

Next up, outfielder Forrest Wall, Colorado’s first-round pick from 2014. While Spanberger might appear to be the more exciting prospect given his numbers, Wall was actually ranked Colorado’s No. 7 prospect back in May by FanGraphs. Wall had the majority of his 2017 season derailed due to a torn labrum, but, once upon a time, he was a top-100 prospect with good hitting and fielding tools.

Wall has been hurt numerous times throughout his career, and the injuries have wreaked havoc on his development and arm strength. Despite his speed, a lack of arm strength could push him to left field instead of center (he’s already had to abandon second base), but Wall is so fast that he could be plus there. His combination of patience, bat control, and nearly average power don’t look terrible in left either. His range of potential outcomes starts with a bench outfield role on the low end and looks something like Brett Gardner on the other. – FanGraphs 

Following shoulder surgery in high school that left him without much arm strength, his throwing is stretched considerably in center field. The transition to the outfield is a work in progress, and his routes and reads off the bat don’t look like they will play at the position. Wall will likely always have the ability to fill in at second base or center in a pinch, but the only place he looks capable of playing regularly at the big league level is left field. That, of course, requires the bat to play big, and as a hit-over-power offensive profile, it’s unlikely the future role is that of an everyday player on a corner. There is chance for an above-average hit tool however, as Wall shows the ability to work counts and spray line drives to all parts of the field. A 70-grade runner (4.0-to-4.05 seconds up the line), he’s able to stretch hits for extra bases and beat out ground balls to the infield. I believe that he’s a future big leaguer–the approach, contact, and speed have Major League utility, I just don’t see it in a regular role. He’s likely to provide value off the bench, able to put the ball in play and provide late-game speed. – 2080 Baseball 

Wall makes consistent contact from the left side of the plate and delivers line drives to all fields. He hasn’t shown much extra-base power yet, though Colorado still believes he can produce double-digit homer totals as he continues to add strength. His speed earned some double-plus grades when he was an amateur, but it’s more plus now and he still has much to learn as a base stealer. Wall tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder in high school, leaving him with a below-average arm that was a liability at second base. – MLB.com 

All in all, this is a pretty nice haul for Oh, a guy the Jays grabbed right before the beginning of spring training this year. Given the fact Oh is signed to a cheap deal with an option for another cheap yer, he was probably Toronto’s most valuable trade option out of the ‘pen (other than the controllable arms, obviously). You aren’t going to be getting top-100 prospects back for guys like Oh, but it seems the Jays added a couple of interesting names to the system here.