TORONTO – Two prospects with a plus tool each – speed for one, power for the other – offer the Toronto Blue Jays some potential with risk in return for reliever Seunghwan Oh, whose trade to the Colorado Rockies was finalized Thursday.
Outfielder Forrest Wall will be assigned to the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats – crossing dugouts in Hartford where they’re scheduled to play the Yard Goats – while first baseman Chad Spanberger is slated to join low-A Lansing, moving to the Midwest League from the South Atlantic League but remaining at the same level.
Baseball America ranked Wall 18th and Spanberger 28th among Rockies prospects, while MLB Pipeline ranked them 13th and 24th.
The Blue Jays also get a player to be named or cash in the deal, an appropriate return for a well-priced reliever – Oh’s due the remainder of his $1.75 million salary – on pace to deliver a two-plus win season with an option for next year at $2.5 million or a $250,000 buyout.
Wall, 22, is the speedster, selected 35th overall in 2014 who last year was converted to the outfield from second base. A separated left shoulder suffered diving for a ball prematurely ended his season while this year he’s been healthy, moving up from advanced-A Lancaster to double-A Hartford near the end of May, stealing a combined 28 bases in 39 chances.
Still, Wall has suffered injuries on both shoulders now, having had labrum surgery on his right shoulder in high school, so there’s some risk there. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook describes him as struggling to live up to his draft pedigree as “a gifted hitter” in pro ball, and he’s batted .206/.289/.359 in 46 games since his promotion after hitting .305/.382/.453 in 47 games at Lancaster.
Spanberger, also 22, is the slugger, a first baseman selected in the sixth round last year who’s produced an eye-popping slugging percentage so far in pro ball. He was a catcher and third baseman in high school and played some outfield and DH at college before settling in at first. Power is for now his sole calling card.
This year at low-A Asheville, he’s batted .315/.363/.579 with 22 homers in 380 plate appearances over 92 games in a hitters’ league. He’s also struck out 82 times against 20 walks, illustrating what Baseball America described as “a below average feel for hitting.”
While BA rates both players as high risk, netting players with at least one plus tool is in line with such trades. Whether the Blue Jays find success in this deal depends on if their scouts identified enough potential beyond the primary skills, and if the player development department can now help them grow beyond their flaws.