In the past, 51’s first-baseman Brett Wallace had been primarily known for his involvement in a few big name trades. It’s easy to get lost behind names like Holliday and Halladay as just another prospect to watch. However, now playing with his third organization (Cardinals, A’s, and now Blue Jays), Wallace is making his mark as a young player who is ready to contribute at the big league level.
Wallace rose through the minor league ranks as a third baseman, but he was shifted to the opposite corner of the infield as soon as he arrived in Las Vegas. The Blue Jays organization felt he was struggling at third base and could contribute much more defensively as a first baseman. The move has seemed to work quite well, as Wallace seems to be adjusting nicely. He is also showing off his bat, the primary reason he was coveted by the three organizations that he has belonged to.
In 377 plate appearances, Wallace has posted a triple slash of .294/.358/.494 while hitting 15 home runs. This season, he is hitting home runs at a slightly higher rate, approximately once every 25 plate appearances. His 2009 rate, combining his AA and AAA numbers, was a home run every 30 plate appearances. While the surge in power was expected, it has come at somewhat of a cost. In 2009, Wallace posted walk and strikeout rates of 7.8% and 21.8%, respectively. This season has seen both rates regress slightly, as he is walking at a clip of 7.2% and striking out 22.3% of the time. This trend is not much of a cause for concern as it is very slight and, not to mention, it has resulted in a step forward as far as power.
The question remains, though, of when Wallace will be promoted to the Blue Jays. Coming into 2010, Wallace was ranked as the #27 prospect in all of baseball by the experts over at Baseball America. To give some perspective, he was ranked higher than players who have made a nice impact in 2010 already (Wade Davis #34, Reid Brignac #54, Ike Davis #62, Mike Leake #72, just to name a few). The point is that the talent has been there, and scouts are aware of it.
As far as his opportunity for a call-up, Wallace was done a favor by being moved to first base as the Blue Jays are currently starting Lyle Overbay there. Overbay is a 33-year old average fielder who still has a little pop in his bat, but would be much better suited as a pinch hitter or occasional DH. Also, there could be a few teams looking to add such a piece, as Overbay is owed what’s left of his $7 million salary for this season, which is the last of his contract.
If Overbay is traded before the deadline, Wallace would have to get the call immediately. However, even if he isn’t traded, the Blue Jays are slipping farther back in the AL East (they stand 11 1/2 games behind the Yankees coming into today). As that deficit grows, they must look towards the future, and give Wallace the opportunity to play at the big league level every day. Providing Wallace with two months of major league experience this season could pay nice dividends in 2011 as he’ll be much more ready to contribute.
So, for all of you who have been following Brett Wallace, keep an eye on him over the next two weeks. Most likely, you’ll see him head north of the border.
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