Brett Wallace Serves as a Reminder That Top Prospects Are Not Sure Things

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Brett Wallace Serves as a Reminder That Top Prospects Are Not Sure Things
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The St. Louis Cardinals made Brett Wallace their first pick, the 13th overall, of the 2008 amateur draft. A third baseman out of Arizona State University, Wallace had the potential power bat that the Cardinals predicted would be a big part of their future.

Before the 2008 season would end, Wallace found himself playing in Double-A Springfield. He would remain there to start the 2009 season, continuing to play third base despite rumors of being moved to first base due to his size and perceived lack of range.

The one thing everyone was talking about one year after he was drafted was his powerful bat. That bat would earn him a promotion to Triple-A Memphis after just 86 total games in his minor league career.

Wallace's bat became the key component in a trade with Oakland in July of 2009. He would be sent to Oakland, along with Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson in exchange for Matt Holliday. The top prospect in the Cardinals organization had been traded away, and many fans questioned the team's judgement in doing so.

Prospects are a hard commodity to predict. Some top prospects go on to realize their potential and become great ballplayers over their career. Some fizzle out for various reasons, be it injury or inability to perform. Trying to gauge what they may become is the equivalent to staring into a crystal ball. Sometimes, trading away a top prospect for a known commodity works out.

It did for the Cardinals.

Wallace spent just over a year with the Cardinals before being traded to Oakland. It was five months later that Oakland would send Wallace to the Toronto Blue Jays for Michael Taylor. Toronto would not hold on to him much longer, trading him seven months later to the Houston Astros for Anthony Gose.

The Astros would give Wallace the opportunity to shine in the big leagues.  Wallace, however, could not seem to capitalize. Despite a career in the minor leagues that produced an overall batting average of .309, a .499 slugging percentage and 74 home runs, success would not come to Wallace on the bigger stage.

Parts of four seasons would find Wallace playing in the big leagues for the Houston Astros. He would only produce a .242 batting average, a .391 slugging percentage and a paltry 29 home runs. Hitting at the big league level has not been something Wallace has figured out to this point.

According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, Wallace was released by the Houston Astros a year before he would become arbitration eligible:

 

 

This will likely not be the end of Wallace's story. He may yet find a team that is willing to take another chance on him. For the first time in his career, he finds himself in a position to find his next team himself.

As for now, it seems that Cardinals' general manager John Mozeliak found the right answer when he looked into the crystal ball in 2008.

 

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.

Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball.

Statistics in this article are courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

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