by Jimmy Hascup
With baseball’s hiatus upon us, I thought it was only fitting to take a look at a prospect, Brett Wallace, of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Not only did Wallace have a spot on this year’s Future’s Game roster (he went 0-0 with 2 walks), he also has a chance to earn a place on the Cardinals’ big league roster this year. More importantly, he has a chance to be a solid option at third base this season in fantasy leagues, if he’s recalled soon enough to really have time to make an impact.
Between Joe Thurston and Brian Barden (and David Freese, who underwent ankle surgery), the St. Louis Cardinals have possibly the weakest third base positions in the major leagues. In 209 ABs, Thurston is batting .225 with 1 HR and 21 RBI. In 103 ABs Brian Barden is batting .233 with 4 HR and 10 RBI. Together the current 3B duo for the Cardinals is hitting .229 with 5 HR and 31 RBI. Granted the Cardinals are in first place in the NL Central and they do have the most dynamic hitter in Albert Pujols. Sooner or later though, Tony LaRussa has to end this 3B experiment and dip down into the reserves. It’s time to give Brett Wallace a chance to man the hot corner.
This season, Wallace has played at both Double and Triple-A. In Double-A, Wallace batted .281 with 5 HR and 16 RBI in 128 ABs. He also had a .403 OBP. Thus far in Triple-A, Wallace has batted .303 with 6 HR and 19 RBI in 195 ABs. His OBP is .355. While it’s not like he’s tearing up the minor leagues, he’s also not being overpowered. During his past ten games he’s batted .351, albeit with only 1 HR and 5 RBI.
Since he was drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft, Wallace has been a fast riser in the Cardinals’ minor league system. Turning 22 in August and really only one year removed from the draft, Wallace has already played at every level of the minor leagues. He just doesn’t seem to be fazed by higher levels of competition. Just months after being drafted, he put up some impressive numbers in both Single and Double-A. In 202 AB he totaled a .337 average, 8 HR and 36 RBI with a .427 OBP.
His best season at Arizona State University, Wallace batted .410 with 22 HR and 83 RBI in 239 ABs. When you approximate what he’s done in the minors so far, it looks like his power potential lies in the mid-20 range. Kevin Goldstein, of Baseball Prospectus, outlines Wallace’s hitting skills. “Wallace is an offensive machine,” he says. “He has a big-league approach, outstanding hand/eye coordinate, and above-average power.”
The one red flag for Brett Wallace in his stats is his strikeout rate. In 2008, he had a K rate of 20.9% at Single-A and 14.3% in Double-A. This season, in Double-A he had a 26.6% rate and a 20.7% rate in Triple-A. A high strikeout rate could be the only reason he hasn’t been promoted to the majors yet.
Rated as the Cards’ number two prospect (behind Rasmus, who’s already in the majors) by both Goldstein and Baseball America before the season, Wallace has the potential to make an immediate impact with the Cardinals, who have lacked a cog at third base all season. In Baseball American’s midseason top 25-prospect list, Wallace ranks as the 21st best prospect. Just think of the possibilities if he’s batting somewhere behind Pujols in the lineup. Wallace could be a great grab for owners in need of a 3B this season. Although his upside doesn’t look to be sky-high, it doesn’t look like his downside is all that low, which is a reason why he could have an immediate positive impact. If I’m an owner in a keeper league or a deep yearly league, I’m definitely stashing Wallace on my bench, hoping for his promotion.
What does everyone think? Do you think he’ll get his shot this year?
To read the previous article, click here.