The dominoes are starting to fall as the Blue Jays made their first deadline deal of the season, sending reliever Seung-hwan Oh to the Colorado Rockies for a pair of minor league players.
OFFICIAL: We’ve acquired minor league 1B Chad Spanberger, OF Forrest Wall, a player to be named later or cash considerations from the @Rockies in exchange for RHP Seunghwan Oh. pic.twitter.com/SfzHVzlaJn
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 26, 2018
Spanberger had been mentioned in rumours all evening and was ranked by MLB.com as the #24 prospect in the Rockies’ system. With 22 home runs this year in Class-A Ashville (in the South Atlantic League, the league parallel to the Midwest League where the Lansing Lugnuts play), Spanberger has torn up A-ball pitching in his second professional season. A sixth-round pick of the Rockies in 2017, he came out of the University of Arkansas as a junior.
Spanberger didn’t hit any home runs as a freshman but his power blossomed in his junior year as he hit 20 bombs along with 13 doubles and a triple, posting a .305/.389/.619 slash line. He continued to mash when assigned to Advanced-Rookie Grand Junction in the Pioneer League (roughly equivalent to the Appalachian League where the Bluefield Blue Jays play), hitting .294/.368/.617 with 15 doubles, two triples and 19 home runs in just 60 games.
This year, in 92 games in the South Atlantic League, he’s hitting .315/.363/.579 with 20 doubles, three triples and 22 home runs in 380 plate appearances.
Now 22, Spanberger, at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, could be another Ryan McBroom type although Spanberger is hitting for more power at lower levels than McBroom ever did.
Rumours were circulating that the other player in the deal was going to be Sean Bouchard, a 22-year-old teammate of Spanberger’s who plays first base and outfield with a more gap-power profile. However, the Blue Jays are getting lefthanded hitting center fielder Forrest Wall who ranks significantly higher on the prospect list for the Rockies. Wall, 22, is currently playing with the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats and was ranked the #18 prospect of the Rockies by Baseball America coming into 2018 and is currently ranked the #13 prospect for the Rockies by MLB.com.
Originally drafted as a second baseman, Wall was moved to center field as his hitting ability and speed were originally rated very high in his draft class. Selected in the first round (35th overall) in the 2014 draft and signing for $2 million, Wall had a below-average throwing arm (after labrum surgery in 2011) but was considered to be “one of the best pure hitters in the draft class . . . [with] supreme contact ability.”
That said, he has had increasing trouble as he has risen through the minors with strong numbers in his first year in Grand Junction (.318/.416/.490, 6 2B, 6 3B, 3 HR, 18 SB) but diminishing returns (.792 OPS in Asheville in 2015, .684 OPS in A+ Modesto in 2016). He had a strong year in 2017, repeating the Advanced-A California League but posted an .832 OPS in Lancaster, one of the best hitting stadiums in the minors, playing only 22 games before dislocating his left shoulder diving for a ball.
This year, he returned to Lancaster, putting up solid numbers (.305/.382/.453, 11 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 20 SB) before getting promoted to Double-A Hartford where he has struggled (.206/.289/.359, 6 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 8 SB) in almost the same number of games.
Both players are somewhat wild cards. Spanberger’s hitting tool is somewhat suspect and most scouts wonder whether he’ll be able to maintain his success as he moves up in the minors. Wall has had several chances to produce but hasn’t been able to do so consistently, at least not when in a great hitting league like the California League. The Blue Jays also will get a player to be named later or cash considerations.
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