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As you probably know by now, Thursday is dynasty day in our positional coverage. In addition to the top-50 rankings by Bret Sayre and the supplemental pieces by Wilson Karaman, Alaska enthusiast J.J. Jansons and I are taking turns giving you a head-to-head comparison of two closely ranked up-and-comers. I took Jacob Nottingham over Jorge Alfaro in the first segment, while J.J. opted for Bobby Bradley over Trey Mancini last week. Today it’s a matchup between a 22-year-old with a bit of major-league experience and a 2014 draftee who is still in the early stages of his development.

Batting Average

Herrera hit .322 across two levels during his ascendant 2014 season and followed it up by hitting .327 in Triple-A, where he spent the bulk of his time last year. After tearing up the Pioneer League in his draft year, Wall made his full-season debut in 2015 and hit .280 in the Sally. Wall was touted as one of the best pure hitters in the 2014 draft, and even though a .280 batting average in the hitters’ paradise of Asheville is hardly impressive (seven teammates who received semi-regular playing time registered a higher mark), he played the season at 19 years old. The future grade on Herrera’s hit tool might not be quite as lofty as Wall’s but I favor the demonstrated success at higher levels over projection.

Advantage: Herrera

On-Base Percentage

Herrera has a reputation as a bit of a free-swinger who is willing to expand the zone and rely on his natural bat-to-ball ability. He walked in 7.7 percent of his Triple-A plate appearances in 2015 and his .382 OBP was the 13th-best in the PCL among players with as many plate appearances, thanks mostly to that lofty batting average. Wall walked at a 9.9 percent clip and posted .355 OBP last season, 21st in the Sally among qualifiers. Given that the batting-average category was razor-thin, I’ll give this one to Wall based on scouting reports that praise his ability to control the zone.

Advantage: Wall

Home Runs

Easy choice, right? Just take the guy in the Rockies’ organization and call it a day. Well, I’m not so sure in this case. A 60-grade projection on Wall’s hit tool and his young age should mean that he can access most of his average raw pop in game action, but his approach is more of the gap-to-gap variety. He hit only seven bombs in one of the most favorable parks in the minors in 2015. For comparison’s sake, a 19-year-old Trevor Story hit 18 back in 2012, and middle-infield luminaries like Taylor Featherston and Rosell Herrera have cruised into double digits in Asheville in recent years. A Class-A stat line certainly doesn’t tell the whole story about a 19-year-old prospect, but Asheville is a place where skilled hitters can accidentally run into home runs if the swing plane and approach are geared for it. I don’t think Wall’s are. Herrera is no bopper, but he carries 15-plus home-run upside because of his ability to barrel the ball and his willingness to sell out when he sees a pitch he likes. As a nice statistical juxtaposition to Wall, Herrera took advantage of his favorable Las Vegas/PCL context last season by hitting 11 home runs in 81 games. Don’t be lazy and lean on the Rockies crutch.

Advantage: Herrera

Runs/RBI

Both spent the majority of 2015 in the top third of their respective team’s batting order and each could eventually do the same at the major-league level. At the end of the day, when speculating about contextual stats of a player still in Class-A, be lazy and lean on the Rockies crutch.

Advantage: Wall

Stolen Bases

Dilson stole 13 bags in 81 Triple-A games last year and swiped 23 in 2014, split between High-A and Double-A. There’s no question he has enough juice to steal double digits in the major leagues, but this category is an easy win for Wall. Even with the lofty projection on his hit tool, Wall’s speed might be his biggest asset, and he used it to swipe 23 bases last year. He was caught nine times and will need to improve his efficiency if he’s going to push 25 at the major-league level, but he has the footspeed to do it and the instincts will come.

Advantage: Wall

Nickname

Wall committed 20 errors in 2015 but the projection on his glove is just positive enough that WALL-E is probably too harsh. Forrest and Wall are two actual words in the English language (even if one is misspelled), so this should be fertile ground for his yet-to-be-assigned nickname. I’m not willing to spend any more time thinking about it because Herrera’s nickname is Pickles.

Advantage: Pickles

Injury Risk

Wall entered professional ball with shoulder surgery to repair torn labrum already on his resume. He missed most of the month of July last year with an injury to the same shoulder, obviously a cause for concern even though he hit .309/.361/.446 after returning. Herrera missed some time in 2015 with a broken finger, but has never missed a significant portion of any season despite his relatively small stature.

Advantage: Herrera

Upside

In Jose Altuve and Dee Gordon, we’ve seen recently that elite average-and-speed second basemen can deliver first round value. Wall is a long shot to reach those heights, of course, but an eventual top five ranking at the position would not be an extreme outcome if he develops as expected. Herrera, on the other hand, is more about floor and the potential for moderate five-category contribution. I’ll never complain about balance, but his profile lacks the kind of categorical impact Wall is capable of achieving.

Advantage: Wall

Estimated Time of Impact

Wall is likely to play all of 2016 in the Cal League, barring a big breakout and mid-season promotion to Double-A. A late 2017 arrival in Denver is probably the best-case scenario, which means true impact probably doesn’t happen until 2018 at the very earliest. Herrera already has major-league experience and is one injury away from getting some more, even in a crowded Mets middle infield. Neil Walker’s contract expires at the end of 2016 and Herrera figures to have a full-time role no later than 2017’s Opening Day.

I’d also like to use this space to caution you against discounting Herrera based on his .215/.308/.396 line in his first 169 major-league plate appearances. The first 66 of those were taken in 2014 when Herrera was a 20-year-old who began the season in High-A. The 2015 set was divided into three chunks, with Herrera hopping back and forth between Vegas and Queens twice when the Mets needed some short-term depth, and eventually playing a little after a September call-up. There are some positives to take out his major league experience; he hit six home runs in his first 49 major-league games and walked in more than 10 percent of his plate appearances. That said, the major-league stints tell us next to nothing—good or bad—about what Herrera will be once he reaches The Show for good. Herrera’s history of production despite being young for his levels tells us much more than any 20-30 game major-league sample. You should write him off based on the latter at your own risk.

Advantage: Herrera

Overall

As J.J. pointed out last week, determining the value of prospects in different stages of their careers is both the great challenge and the great fun of playing in dynasty leagues. The non-nickname categories are tied four apiece here, but I’m willing to leave some upside on the table and prioritize Herrera’s proximity to the big leagues. Despite the unanimity among scouts regarding Wall’s natural hitting ability, the range of outcomes for any player who hasn’t played above low-A is wide. I’ll take the similarly skilled player in Herrera, and hope I’m right that his minor-league production at a young age foretells a solid major-league future.

And the winner is… Herrera

Thank you for reading

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leites
1/28
Pickles!
slemar37
1/28
I feel you will regret the result of this exercise come 2018 and beyond.Wall> Herrera...all day. Great piece to read though. Thanks for the write up. These aregreat
huztlers
1/28
I doubt it. Neither is much of a bet to make much of an impact ever. One may win out over time, but neither of these guys look like more than depth if they ever earn PT.
sam19041
1/29
Do you factor into this process the Rockies' ultra-deliberate (i.e. slow) promotion pace in their farm system? Could be 4 years before we see Wall.