Lancaster, California —— There’s no question that Lancaster is as good a place to hit as anywhere in professional baseball, but even taking into account his home park in the High-A California League this summer, Colorado Rockies prospect Forrest Wall had been finding his way at the plate early this year before he went down with a season-ending shoulder injury this month.
Wall showed better balance and weight transfer, far quieter hand movement, and a more consistent ability to get to a good hitting position relative to his down summer in 2016 with the Modesto Nuts. We’ve got a full video of Wall from this April up top if you want to see him in regular speed, but here’s his swing broken down in GIFs that’ll help show how much stronger of a base he had this year compared to his stutter-stepping, hand-waving habits last summer.
This is April, 2017:
And that’s compared to June, 2016:
Wall swayed back and forth at the plate quite a bit last summer, transferring his weight multiple times before seeing the pitch and over-complication his pre-swing set (he also experimented with a stutter step at times, likely in a bid to keep his weight back). This year, before his injury, Wall had dropped the stutter step completely and was doing a much better job of keeping his weight back from the start, so he didn’t have to work up a rhythm to get over his back leg as the pitch came to the plate and he could load quietly and efficiently.
That, in turn, helped put him in a hitting position that had the second baseman/center fielder hitting the ball in the air with authority more often—a sure-fire means of success in Lancaster, but more so a good way to think about hitting at this level and moving forward.
The other thing Wall changed between 2016 and 2017 was his hand positioning and activity, opting for a quieter approach with his hands and a quicker bat path to the ball because of it.
Again, here he is in April, 2017:
Compared to this, back in July of 2016:
Cutting down on hand movement allowed Wall to far more consistently get his bat to the load position early, without wasted movement. That in turn allowed him to track pitches deeper, start his swing later, and find the barrel more frequently. His numbers bore that out; at the time of his injury, Wall was slashing .299/.361/.471/.832 through his first 22 games. More than the stats, though, he showed an ability to get the barrel on the ball far more consistently thanks to his simple, straightforward approach this year.
Here’s a bit more Forrest Wall baseball video if you’d like to compare 2017 to some of his old swings in 2016:
Forrest Wall Baseball Video
So what does this mean for Forrest Wall? Well, he’s still only 21 years old, and was young for the Cal League this year before the injury. In all likelihood, he’ll return to Lancaster next spring and pick up where he left off—hopefully fully healthy, but undoubtedly a year smarter and stronger with a new approach that showed promise early this spring. If he continues next year where he was this year pre-shoulder dislocation, he’ll be up in Double-A soon enough by some point in 2018—when he’d still be just 22 years old, with plenty of time to go to play out his plus-hit projections as a top prospect.
In this Forrest Wall / Colorado Rockies analysis: