It sure did take a long time, but the Dodgers may have finally found the right role for Josh Wall. The 6'6" right-hander was drafted in the second round in 2005 (after the unsigned Luke Hochevar, and Ivan DeJesus) out of Central Private High School in Baker, Louisiana after going 14-1 with a 0.83 ERA on the mound and playing shortstop and third base while also hitting the second-most home runs in the country.
After putting up a 4.18 ERA as a 20-year old starter in Class A Great Lakes in 2007, Wall was promoted to High A Inland Empire, where Wall struggled for two seasons in the Cal League. Wall put up a cumulative 6.14 ERA in two seasons in San Bernardino, though his peripherals were better, with a 4.54 FIP. He was demoted to Great Lakes for 2010, where he put up similar numbers as a 23-year old as he did three years earlier.
Languishing as a starter, Wall was shifted to relief in 2011 and promoted to Double A Chattanooga for the first time.
"While his overall stats [at Chattanooga] weren’t all that impressive, he did add a few ticks to his fastball and was rumored to be hitting 100 mph in some outings," wrote Brandon Lennox as he ranked Wall the 29th best prospect in the Dodgers system. "In addition to his strong fastball, Josh throws a hard slider along with a decent curveball and a fringy changeup. His overall potential as a reliever was too much for the Dodgers to ignore as they added him to the 40 man roster this past November."
"His control is okay, but his command still needs work, as he doesn’t hit his spots often enough for my liking," wrote Chad Moriyama of Wall earlier this week in his season review of 2011 Lookouts pitchers. "Unfortunately for him, the Dodgers have nothing but power bullpen arms at this point in time, so he could get lost in the shuffle."
Wall pitched in the Arizona Fall League during the offseason, allowing two runs in eight innings and led the AFL with four saves. Wall was also a part of the Dodgers Winter Development Program in Los Angeles in January. Here is a video of Wall striking out Mike Olt of the Texas Rangers system in the Arizona Fall League, from MLBProspectPortal.com:
In seven years in the Dodgers minor league system, Wall has never been promoted during a season. Wherever he has began each year, that's where he ended it. Can he buck that trend in 2012 and ride the oft-used Chattanooga-to-Los Angeles train?
Wall, who pitched for Class A Great Lakes in both 2007 and 2010, holds the all-time Loons record with 50 starts and 254 strikeouts.
Wall was added to the 40-man roster in November. He has three minor league option seasons remaining.
|2009 (A - Inland Empire)
|2010 (A - Great Lakes)
|2011 (AA - Chattanooga)
|2012 Projections - Age 25 Season|
While physically imposing on the mound, Wall still needs improvement before he can be even considered for MLB action. I don't think he sees any time in Los Angeles in 2012.
What's your prediction for Wall? Give us your prediction for ERA, WHIP, and innings pitched in the comments, and feel free to add strikeouts or any other predictions you have as well.