The 2008 season was definitely the year of the first baseman when you consider how many of them were drafted in the first round of the amateur draft: seven out of 30 players, compared to one in both 2006 and 2007.
No first baseman drafted in the 2008 first round moved quicker than St. Louis’ Brett Wallace (although Toronto’s David Cooper played at three levels at topped out at High-A ball). The hulking first baseman, though, has been assigned to play third base to address an organizational weakness and to avoid that Albert Pujols guy at the Major League level.
Wallace had a modest beginning to his pro career with an assignment to A-ball, where many top college players start out. He hit .327/.394/.490 with an ISO of .163 in 153 at-bats. He also posted a walk rate of 10 percent and a strikeout rate of 20.9 percent. The organization then skipped Wallace over High-A ball and challenged him with a promotion to Double-A. Wallace responded by hitting .367/.392/.653 with an ISO of .286 in 49 at-bats.
He wasn’t done there, though. St. Louis then decided to send him for some extra work in the Arizona Fall League (AFL). Wallace’s bat did not skip a beat and he hit .309/.381/.585 with six home runs in 94 at-bats. The negatives, which bear watching, to the left-handed hitter’s season were that he struck out 27 times in 24 AFL games and hit just .182 against southpaws.
Wallace, who was drafted by the Blue Jays out of high school, likely will not be able to remain at third base at the Major League level due to limited range thanks to his 6’1” 245 lbs frame and thick lower half. That said, he has surprised some scouts with his play at the hot corner – by handling much of what he gets to, thanks to steady hands. If he cannot handle third base in St. Louis, Wallace will be a highly-sought-after trade commodity because he is not going to push the future Hall of Famer off of first base.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.