By: Brian Frank
Forrest Wall has been one of the Bisons pivotal players on their quest to win their first division championship since 2005. His style of play has helped electrify Sahlen Field this summer – with his ability to get on base, create havoc on the base paths, and make dazzling catches in the outfield.
Wall was drafted as a second baseman by the Colorado Rockies in 2014 out of Orangewood Christian High School in Maitland, Florida. With the exception of a few showcase events when he was in high school, he'd always been an infielder. However, in 2017 at High-A Lancaster, Wall began playing outfield in an effort to better utilize his speed.
“I think my speed is my best tool and it allowed me to use it more in the outfield,” Wall said in a recent interview with The Herd Chronicles. “The transition was a little bit difficult at first, because I played infield my whole life, but I've found it to get better and better with the more work I put in.”
The season after he changed positions, Wall was shocked to learn he’d been traded to a new organization. He came to the Blue Jays in a 2018 trade deadline deal that sent Seung-hwan Oh to the Rockies.
“I was surprised,” Wall said of changing teams. “I didn't see it coming. But I think it was a blessing. I think everything happens for a reason and I'm thankful to be here.”
Wall has sparked the Herd offence from the leadoff spot. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
His former team, the Hartford Yard Goats, happened to be playing the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Blue Jays Double-A affiliate, at the time of the trade. So all Wall had to do was change dugouts.
“Yeah, so I went clubhouse to clubhouse, which was pretty funny,” Wall laughed. “I packed up my bags that morning on one side and walked over to the other side and had to introduce myself to everybody. But everybody in the Blue Jays organization welcomed me with open arms. It was a really easy transition and that's a credit to the organization.”
In his first game with the Fisher Cats, Wall homered against his former team. The transition to the new organization was made a bit easier because Wall had a longtime friend playing for New Hampshire.
“My first hitting coach ever was Dante Bichette Jr., Bo’s older brother,” Wall said. “He (Dante) was older than I was. My brother actually played with him. So I kind of just got to be around them. Then both our families got really close. It kind of developed into an off the field friendship and baseball friendship. So it's pretty cool. My older brother grew up being Dante’s friend, since we were two or three years old. It's been really cool to grow up with them and they've been a tremendous help in my career.”
Dante Sr. bought a warehouse in Orlando and equipped it with batting cages and a weight room. It was a place that Wall could frequently be found – working out and soaking up as much information as he could.
“In Orlando if you played baseball, that was the spot to be,” Wall said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to work with him there.”
Although he’s over two years older than Bo Bichette, Wall played with Bo on a travel team. Wall and Bichette were the team’s keystone combination.
“It was actually funny – when I was 18, Bo played up and he was our shortstop,” Wall chuckled. “I was second base. He was actually the best hitter on our team at 16 years old, which was pretty cool.” He added: “It's really cool to see how hard Bo works and the success he’s having at the big league level.”
Wall during warmups at Sahlen Field. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
Wall had a successful season at Double-A New Hampshire in 2019 and moved up to Buffalo for 14 games at the end of the summer. It seemed like he was headed for Buffalo in 2019, until the pandemic shut down the minor league season. He wound up at the Blue Jays Alternate Training Sight in Rochester. Wall made the best of the situation.
“It was very helpful,” Wall said. “It took a lot of results out of the equation because numbers really didn't matter. Essentially, it was more work. So I've benefited a lot from that. It was definitely a weird scenario with COVID and everything going on. But it was something we got used to and it actually made us grow closer as a unit.”
He got off to a fast start this season for the Bisons while playing in Trenton. However, he suffered an oblique injury in June that kept him out of action for over a month.
“It was definitely frustrating, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I got a lot of good out of it. So I'm hoping I can just continue to get better and hopefully it shows on the field.
Wall in the Trenton dugout earlier this season. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
He returned to the Bisons lineup in July and picked up right where he left off. He currently leads the team with thirty stolen bases and has only been caught four times. As a speedy center fielder who hits leadoff and steals bases, Wall has been fortunate to have one of the greatest fielding centerfielders of all-time as one of his coaches – Blue Jays legend Devon White.
“I am so grateful and thankful that he's here and I'm able to work with him,” Wall said. “He's someone who did it at the highest level – with the best of them. He has so much knowledge from experience and just a lot of little things that he has from playing the game for so long. It seems like he’s always giving us nuggets. We're really grateful and blessed to have him here for sure.”
One thing Wall has recently been working on with White is being more selective as to when he attempts to steal a base.
“One of the biggest things he's taught me as far as stealing bases is not to have the mentality where I'm stealing every pitch,” Wall said. “That it's a lot of wear on your mind and your legs trying to get a good jump every time. So one of the things he says is pick a pitch – and on that pitch, you're committed, you're all out, and it's easier on your body and mind.”
Having always been one of his teams’ fastest players, Wall is accustomed to hitting in the leadoff spot. He enjoys being the guy who gets to kick start the offense every night.
“I enjoy doing it,” Wall said. “It's my favorite spot to hit in the lineup. My favorite is hitting leadoff on the road and being the first one up. I love to use my speed to help the team at the top of the order.”
Wall Scores from first base on a single.
Wall has now been in the Blue Jays’ system for over three years and he has nothing but positive things to say about the organization.
“The culture,” he said without hesitation, when asked what he likes about the organization. “Everybody shows up every day to get better. I think as a unit we feed off that. It's a fun culture and an enjoyable culture to be around.”
Bisons fans are certainly thankful Wall is in the Blue Jays’ system. His contributions as a leadoff hitter, baserunner, and outfielder are some of the major reasons why the team is on the verge of winning the division title and has been one of the best teams in all of Triple-A this season.