School: Florida State; Class: Junior
Position: SS; B/T: R/R
Height: 5-10; Weight: 180
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: After looking overwhelmed for the majority of his true freshman season three years ago, Walls, who batted a lowly .220/.373/.247 with just five extra-base hits in 65 games, came out swinging in 2016. And when the dust settled, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound middle infielder was sporting a .355/.479/.516 triple-slash line with 20 doubles, one triple, and six homeruns to go along with 14 stolen bases (in just 16 attempts). The best part: the scrappy shortstop finished the year with an impressive 45-to-59 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
That production, of course, earned him a spot on Team USA’s roster.He posted a lowly .208 batting average and an equally depressing .282 slugging percentage. His only saving grace: a .415 OBP.
Regardless, Walls seemed poised to become a mid-first round selection heading into the year. And, once again, he promptly fell flat on his face. The Georgia-born infielder batted a mediocre .262/.401/.393 with eight doubles, three triples, six homeruns, and 10 stolen bases (in 12 attempts). Walls did manage to post another impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio: 43-to-57.
Projection: So let’s take a look at just how good Walls was two years ago during his breakout sophomore campaign:
- Between 2011 and 2016, only six Division I hitters – Kyle Lewis, Max Pentecost, James Ramsey, Travis Jankowski, Johnny Field, and, of course, Taylor Walls – have batted at least .350/.475/.500 (minimum 300 plate appearances).
- Lewis, Pentecost, Ramsey, and Jankowski were all first round selections. Fields was a fifth round selection by the Rays in 2013.
Again, Walls looked like a surefire bet to become a first round selection heading into 2017, but his stumble – as well as a brief suspension for violating team rules – definitely clouds his big league prospects a bit.
His bread-and-butter ability is his ability to work the count and find first base via the free pass. His power is average, but he’s shown enough pop to keep defenses honest. Whether he sticks at shortstop is an entirely different question. At worst he’s a decent Quad-A/role player. At his best, he’s a nice little shortstop who could hit somewhere in the neighborhood of .290/.360/.370.
Ceiling: 2.0 to 2.5-win player
Floor: 1.0-win player
Grade: Second Round